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Preview: Seongnam FC vs Ulsan Hyundai FC

Seongnam FC face another huge challenge this week as 1st place Ulsan Hyundai come to town. The Magpies, who are averaging less than a goal per match this season, will once again be relying on their strong defence to give them a chance, while Ulsan will see this match as a good opportunity to put some distance between them and Jeonbuk.

Last Time Out

Last week was a tough week for Seongnam and their fans. The Magpies started off strong dominating possession and nabbing a 13th minute goal, but then immediatly became complacent allowing Gangwon to score just 3 minutes after.

From then on it was mostly a Gangwon dominated game. Gangwon had 15 shots compared to Seongnam's measly 7. Seongnam's defence carried them through the rest of the match and at the end it seemed the Magpie's would at least walk away with a point.

Then disaster struck 6 minutes into added time. On what was the final attack of the game Shin Kwang-hoon sent a low cross into the box, from the right side, and Kim Ji-hyun was there to tap in,  sealing a victory and 3 crucial points for Gangwong FC.

Ulsan, on the other hand, enter this match having earned a 3-1 victory against Suwon Samsung Bluewings last weekend. It was a game where the scoreline might indicate that they dominated but in reality Samsung attacked a lot and created a lot of chances. However, Ulsan's defence handled it well and the offence created quality chances when they needed to.

Ulsan also played an AFC champions league match this week against Shanghai. For Shanghai the match was crucial as they were playing for a chance to advance to the next round. For Ulsan, however, the match meant nothing as the team had already clinched 1st place in the group. For that reason many of the younger, less experienced players started and while Manager Kim Do-hoon certainly didn't expect that big of a loss one shouldn't look too much into it.

Previous Meetings

With Ulsan currently first in the K League 1 table one might be surprised to find out that the last meeting between these two sides ended with a 1-0 Seongnam victory. The only goal came off a counter attack that set up a 3 on 3 situation where Kong Min-hyun was able to score from the edge of the 18 yard box.

But truly it was Seongnam's defence that kept the Magpies alive in this game. Ulsan's 19 shots and nearly 70% possession normally would be more than enough to allow them to walk away with 3 points but Seongnam's defence, led by Ahn Young-kyu, was able to hold the line and keep Ulsan at bay. If there is any chance for lighting to strike twice this week the Magpie defence will need to step up and expect to do the brunt of the work for the team once again.

Team News

The big news for Seongnam this week is the continued absence of Brazilian recruit Jakson Avelino Coelho, otherwise known as Jajá. Though he was signed in early March the striker has yet to appear in a single match or even appear on the game-day roster. When asked about him Manager Nam Ki-il said he felt Jajá did not act like a member of the team often skipping on practices and focusing on his own personal life. Nam expressed regret over the situation because he feels his team needs a strong striker up top but he will not play a player who has "no relationship" with the team.

In other news, Seongnam will be without Midfielder Kim Jeong-hyun this week as he has accumulated 3 yellow cards and is suspended. Furthermore, Kim Min-hyeok, Kong Min-hyu and Kim Hyun-sung are all in yellow card jeopardy having accumulated 2 each.

The Adversary

League leaders Ulsan will have to take another long bus ride north to Gyeonggi-do to face Seongnam FC this weekend, having just recorded a 3-1 victory over Suwon Bluewings in that same province last Saturday. Add to that the club's midweek trip to Shanghai for the final ACL group stage game, and it's clear the Horangi have really racked up the miles over the last seven days. The good news for manager Kim Do-hoon was that he could leave many of the big names out of the squad for the game in China, as Ulsan had already done enough to qualify top of their group. Players like Junior, Mix Diskerud, Kim In-sung, and Kim Bo-kyung will have had the full week to recover and should be raring to go come kickoff this Saturday evening.

Kim faces a couple of selection decisions for this match, as in-form winger Kim Tae-hwan will miss out due to suspension, while natural replacements Lee Keun-ho and Hwang Il-soo both still looked short of full match fitness on Wednesday night. This means Kim Bo-kyung is likely to start out wide, with the U22 slot in midfield going to either Lee Dong-kyung, who scored against Suwon last weekend, or 18 year-old Park Jung-in. At the back, Yun Young-sun may return to the starting lineup just in time to face the club he left in the winter transfer window, while experienced fullbacks Park Joo-ho and Lee Chang-soo could start having warmed the bench in China.

Ulsan will be looking to exact some revenge for the 0-1 loss to the Magpies a few weeks ago at Munsu. Fortunately for the Horangi, they have historically fared much better in Seongnam than at home; the Horangi have won eleven of the twenty-three away meetings, but only four out of twenty at home.

- Dan Croydon

Who To Watch

Seognam is currently averaging less then a goal per match and with the issues surrounding Jajá there does not seem to be any change in sight. Therefore, it is once again their defence that will be the key to their success. The Magpie's defence will be tested against first place Ulsan and one can reasonably expect that they will need to be nearly flawless to keep the Magpie's hopes alive.

In particular Ahn Young-kyu and Yeon Jae-yoon are two crucial players to watch. Having appeared in most matches this season they have been the cornerstones of Seongnam's back line, in particular Ahn who has 71 interceptions this season.

Prediction

Can lightning strike twice? It's tough to say. Seongnam is a team that seems to play up to tough opponents and down to weaker ones. With that said, Ulsan's strong attack will be tough to keep at bay for a full 90 minutes. Even conceding one or two goals could be seen as a win for Seongnam's defence but unfortunately with no offensive support it won't matter much.

Seongnam 0-2 Ulsan Hyundai FC



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