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Preview: Suwon FC vs Asan Mugunghwa

Preview: Suwon FC vs Asan Mugunghwa K League 2 Round 15
Suwon FC broke Asan Mugunghwa's eight match winning streak in this fixture the last time these two sides met in K League 2 earlier this season.  The third placed side comes into Saturday's affair currently unbeaten in their last five, while Asan managed a win last time out against Seoul E-Land and have not lost in their last six.  There is only a three point gap between them, making this marquee Round 15 match-up a potential momentum turner for both sides coming out of the international break.  KLU's Lee Young-sub and Branko Belan break down the fixture.

Branko asks, Young-sub answers

Branko Belan: Suwon beat Asan the last time the sides met.  It was the first time for Suwon to win the fixture after eight consecutive wins for the defending K League 2 champions.  What were the keys to the win?

Lee Young-sub: At that point, Suwon FC was still in the middle of forming and finalising their strategic philosophy as a team.  It was proven that the 3-5-2 formation could be the first-choice option for the manager after the fourth round win over Daejeon. Ever since then, it was about keying in the right players into the right spots and young talented players like Jang Sung-jae began to prove their worth on the pitch.  

Also, this was when striker Kim Byung-oh first scored for Suwon FC since returning from his military service at Sangju Sangmu.  His presence actually relieved the manager of his worries in trying to find cover for Henri Anier's long barren spell in front of goal.  The combination of these key players, and with goalkeeper Park Hyung-soon's saves, secured Suwon FC the three points.

BB: Chisom Egbuchunam has been a bit of a revelation for Suwon this season, as he currently sits second in the scoring race with eight goals to his credit.  How has he been such a consistent player to this point in the season?

LYS: It can sometimes take a bit of time for overseas players to adapt to the K League.  The players can face new challenges on and off the pitch which may pose problems to the player's adaptation to the team.  The personality of the player would certainly matter too, as that decides whether they can adapt to the team.  The team's support for Chisom should have definitely helped him to focus on football which is crucial for him, not to mention his mentality and characteristics that must have set him on the right track to perform in this league.

From a match perspective, the chemistry with North Korean import, An Byong-jun could be the biggest factor in his game.  As An wins the aerial balls and takes away the defenders' attention, Chisom tends to be open from intense marking from the opponent.  This allows the striker to shoot with accuracy.

BB: Only three points separate the two teams in the standings right now.  Which team has the edge going into the match?

LYS: Both teams picked up some fantastic results in May which resulted in their current standing in the league. After a long break, both teams would want to clinch the win to seek themselves on a higher rung in the table.  The absence of U-20 star, Oh Se-hun is painful for the away side as he could be a huge threat to Suwon's back four.  Also, Suwon had not a single player out on international duty during the break thus, this could have helped the team to recover overall and also to work on the team's shortcomings.  However still, it would be hard to tell which team has an edge over another as both teams are on their best form.

BB: How important is it for Suwon to win this match knowing that they next have to face Gwangju at home before heading on the road to face Anyang to finish the month of June?

LYS: Every game counts for Suwon FC, considering they are now in the race to fight for the spot to get direct promotion to K League 1.  However, losing this match would be tough to take for the home team as the upcoming fixture against the table leaders will never be an easy fight.  Remembering how one match could affect the final standing of the team from last season's six game losing streak since the 26th round against Daejeon Citizen, this week's game against Asan would be the do or die for this Suwon FC side.

BB: What is your score prediction for the match?

LYS: I see it playing out as a 1-1 draw.

Young-sub asks, Branko answers

Lee Young-sub: Both teams took a long break due to international friendly matches. How do you think this would affect the game?

Branko Belan: Every time there is an international break, there is potential for teams to get thrown off a bit because it will put them out of match rhythm and out of the routine of preparation and practice, especially if there are squad members who are called away for international duty, as is the case with Asan this time around.  

I expect that both coaches will be a bit more cautious with their approach to the match, as the summer portion of the schedule has just begun.  A lot will depend on how things unfold in the first twenty minutes of the match, and I think that will set the tone for the final outcome, although tired legs late on could also play a factor.  Both teams need a result from the match, so it depends who will be more eager to get a result.  One thing that is not in question, however, is that it should be a tightly contested affair as it was the last time the two sides met.

LYS: It is notable to see Oh Se-hun, the Asan forward making his name known on the international stage at the U-20 World Cup. What are some of the attributes that make this player so special?

BB: Oh Se-hun has been one of the better players for Asan this season, and it translated into a call-up for the U-20 squad for the tournament in Poland.  I was initially unsure as to how much playing time he would get, but as he has played better, he has received more and more opportunities to play, and has become one of the key players in the squad.  

He has size, is excellent in the air, possesses adept ball control skills around the area, and has the ability to find open teammates to create scoring chances.  There have been reports recently in the Korean media that he has garnered some interest from clubs in Europe based on his recent performances for Korea, although nothing is concrete as of yet; everything is still a matter of speculation.  He still has a lot of time to improve his game, but, should he stay on form and stay healthy, all is shaping up for him to have a very successful campaign.

LYS: Asan had been a totally different team in April and May. What would be the reasons behind Asan's extremely different results?

BB: When you compare this year's squad to the one that won K League 2 last season, on paper it looks much different and the style of football has been a bit more conservative.  There was never any question that there would be some growing pains involved with the team this year with so many new faces coming into the fold, so it's not a surprise that results have been up and down at best up to this point in the season.  

What has been of particular concern, however, is there form at home, where they were virtually unbeatable last season.  If they are to stay in the conversation for a playoff run at least, they need to get results at home to stay with the leading pack.  Their current run of form should give them confidence to continue to work on attaining that goal.

LYS: Asan's dominant record against Suwon FC last season made many fans to expect Asan to be the strong favorite in Round 8 of this year's K League. However, Suwon FC upset the record to win 2-1 at Asan's home. How do you think this may affect the Asan's players in preparing for this week's match?

BB: I think the players will be more than well aware of the importance of the match with such a slim gap between them and Suwon in the standings.  They will want to atone for the previous loss, and, although they will be missing Oh, the rest of the team will do their utmost to be ready to go out and get a result.  

Ko Mu-yeol has been in good form this season, and will want to continue that, but, depending on the formation, he may be left isolated up top if playing alone, so a lot will depend on the tactical decisions of Park Dong-hyuk.  There has been quite a bit of rotation and changing of formations this season trying to find the right combinations in all areas of the pitch, but things are finally starting to take shape.  

Ju Se-jong is returning from international duty with the senior team, so he may or may not start, but if he is not in the starting eleven, then there is a good chance he gets minutes from the bench as he only played the final twelve minutes against Iran in the friendly on Tuesday night.

LYS: Score prediction for this match?

BB: I think both teams will try to feel each other out, so chances may be at a premium in the first half with the possibility of opening up a bit more in the second forty-five.  Overall, it would be fair to predict a score draw from this one.

See also: K League 2 Round 15 Preview

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