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Preview: Ulsan Hyundai vs Daegu FC

Wednesday night sees Ulsan Hyundai face Daegu FC at Munsu Stadium for the first time since the Sky Blues' shock FA Cup Final victory there last December. The Horangi will be out for revenge, and with six wins out of seven at home this season, few would bet against them. But as everyone knows, Andre's Daegu side love the underdog tag. Daniel Croydon previews this meeting of first and fourth, with help from Daegu columnist Muyeol Jung.

Last Time Out

Seongnam FC 1-4 Ulsan Hyundai
Despite their second string team getting a thrashing in Shanghai midweek, Ulsan did not miss a beat last Saturday as three second-half goals saw them pull away from a plucky Seongnam FC side. The hosts took the lead with just three minutes on the clock thanks to a cheeky freekick from Ju Hyun-woo, before Ulsan's Junior pulled his team level with a freekick of his own twenty minutes later.

Lee Keun-ho then got his first goal of the season to give the visitors the lead just after halftime with a flicked effort from close range that just crept over the line. Ulsan then put daylight between themselves and the Magpies thanks to two breakaway goals in the last ten minutes — the first from Mix Diskerud, who found the net with a looping shot despite being fouled; the second from Kim Bo-kyung following good work from Hwang Il-soo.

The victory saw the Horangi preserve their two-point lead over Jeonbuk at the top of K League 1 having registered back-to-back wins on the road for the second time this season.   

Highlights: here

Daegu FC 0-0 Suwon Bluewings
The Sky Blues had to settle for a point after a frustrating ninety minutes at DGB Arena in which they were unable to capitalise on the few clear chances that came their way. Cesinha, the Brazilain wizard who always seems to weave a little magic, created the two best opportunities for fellow countryman Edgar, but the ex-Buriram man was unable to get the telling touch on either cross.

The hosts did manage to find the back of the net in injury time, but Edgar was rightfully penalized for handling the ball in the build-up. Suwon, meanwhile, offered little going forward as they clearly missed top scorer Adam Taggart. Han Eui-kwon and Dejan Damjanovic fashioned brief openings in the second half, but both failed to test Cho Hyun-woo in the Daegu net.

Highlights: here     

Previous Meetings

To say the Horangi have dominated this fixture in recent K League campaigns would be something of an understatement. Kim Do-hoon's side won all six games in 2017 and 2018, home and away, including three 2-0 wins in a row last season. Daegu did, of course, get revenge with that comprehensive FA Cup Final victory last December which truly announced the Sky Blues as the pinnacle of what a Korean citizen club should be.

The two teams have met once already this season of course — a 1-1 draw back in Week 3. Ulsan looked like they might be the first ever team to come away from DGB Arena with three points having taken the lead in the second half through Kim Bo-kyung, but Cesihna dragged his team back into contention, as he so often does, with a neat headed finish that salvaged a point for Andre's men.

Team News

Kim Do-hoon will have a full arsenal to choose from on Wednesday night, with Kim Tae-hwan returning from suspension and Hwang Il-soo seemingly recovered from the calf injury that saw him miss the opening third of the season. Both of these players possess frightening pace, which along with the skill and guile of Kim In-sung and Kim Bo-kyung is likely to create all kinds of problems for Daegu's defense.

At the other end of the pitch, there is still no word on when first-choice centre-back Dave Bulthuis is likely to return from injury. Kim Su-an and Kang Min-soo have been used in his place, and have done well, but with Ulsan keeping just one clean sheet in the five K League games without Bulthuis, Kim Do-hoon will be hoping to have the big Dutchman back sooner rather than later. 

The Adversary

Daegu FC will take the trip to Ulsan for the first time since their thrilling 2-1 win over the Horangi in the first leg of Korean FA Cup last December. Even though they pulled off that dramatic win on Ulsan’s turf, Munsu has never been a happy hunting ground for the Sky Blues — they still haven’t claimed a single K League win there since 2003.

To make matters worse, Andre’s side will have to fight without two key figures - Hong Jung-woon and Edgar - as both players are suspended for this match. Centre-back Hong has been instrumental in Daegu’s back three, featuring in all 13 K League games Daegu have played so far, but his absence will be covered by captain Han Hee-hoon.
Cesinha will spearhead the attack against Ulsan without his Brazilian partner Edgar.

Meanwhile, Brazilian forward Edgar, who has four K League goals to his name, finds himself in  somewhat bad form at the moment after he returning from injury. Jung Chi-in will likely be his understudy on Wednesday night. In addition to that, Daegu boy Ko Jae-hyun is still unavailable due to his international duties with the Korea U20 National Team at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Poland.

Daegu FC will likely line up in their familiar 3-5-2 formation. However, there’s an underlying question mark over what Daegu’s bench could offer when the game doesn’t go according to plan due to the very limited resources at Andre’s disposal. None of the substitutes are regarded as classic strikers or goal poachers. In previous games, right wingback Jang Seong-won, centre midfielder Jung Seon-ho and Park Han-bin came on as substitutes, but struggled to make an impact on the game.

Muyeol Jung

Who To Watch

Junior Negrao will lead the line once more for Ulsan against the team and manager who brought him to the K League. The Brazilian marksman haunted his former employers by scoring in all three league meetings last season, but he will still have a point to prove this Wednesday night after disappointing displays in both legs of the FA Cup final against Daegu last December. 

Elsewhere, two of the league's best creative midfielders go head-to-head, as Ulsan's Kim Bo-kyung and Daegu's Cesinha battle it out to see who can add to their tally of four assists this season.


Ulsan have been immense at home pretty much all year, with a surprise 0-1 loss to Seongnam a few weeks ago the only blot on an otherwise perfect copybook. Daegu's away form, on the other hand, has been up and down and is the main reason they are not currently challenging Ulsan at the top of the league. In the last couple of weeks, the Horangi have shown a ruthless streak and a strength in depth that they lacked last year, meaning that even if Daegu get a foothold in the game, Kim Do-hoon should still have the weapons at his disposal to seal the three points.

Prediction: Ulsan Hyundai 3-1 Daegu FC

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