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Preview: Jeju United vs Ulsan Hyundai

Jeju United go into Saturday's match with Ulsan Hyundai on their best run of form in 2019, as they are now unbeaten in their past four matches.  Wednesday night's away trip to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors netted them their first point against the two time defending champions for the first time in two years and also marked the debuts of several new faces in the lineup.  Ulsan, meanwhile, picked up a huge win at home against FC Seoul and are the new league leaders heading into the weekend.  These two clubs have traditionally played out some very close matches, and with the islanders on form at the moment, this one could be as well.  KLU's Branko Belan has the preview.

Match: Jeju United vs Ulsan Hyundai
Venue: Jeju World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday August 3rd, 2019; 19:30 KST

Last Time Out

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2-2 Jeju United

Knowing the lack of success that the team has had against the North Jeolla side in recent years, Jeju knew they were facing a very stiff test in midweek.  Things did not get off on the right foot, as two starting defenders, Aleks Jovanovic and Park Jin-po went down in the first half with injuries, and Jung Woo-jae was charged with an own goal, putting them behind just before the half hour mark.  But, an in form Yun Il-lok struck again, taking a pass from Magno and floated a shot into the top corner past Song Bum-keun, sending the teams into the break on level terms.

The second half also got off to a bad start as Jeonbuk re-took the lead after another defensive lapse from the Jeju back line, and Son Jun-ho was in position to put the ball home past Oh Seung-hoon from inside the area.  Jeju, however, did now bow down.  Despite some long spells of possession by the home side and some suspect defending at times, they did not concede again the rest of the way.  

The introduction of newly signed Christian Osaguona as a second half substitute changed the tide and resulted in an equalizer, as the Nigerian rose well in midfield and played the ball into space for Nam Jun-jae, who cut inside on a defender and chipped the Jeonbuk 'keeper to make it 2-2.  The referee went to VAR for the call, and the goal was allowed to stand.  Jeonbuk could have won it late when Ricardo Lopes tested Oh with a solid strike in injury time, but the former Ulsan man got down well to fist it away and preserve a point for the islanders.

Highlights: here

Ulsan Hyundai 3-1 FC Seoul

The first half did not present much in terms of chances for either side, and in fact, the football from both teams was quite lax, but the match would come to life after the break.  It took until the 56th minute for Ulsan to penetrate Seoul's back line, but they finally went into the lead thanks to a nice move that was finished off by Kim Bo-kyung.  Only two minutes later, the same player had his second, Kim heading home from close range into the bottom corner.

It would be three on 70 minutes when Kim Seung-gyu launched a goal kick almost the length of the field and Hwang Il-soo got on the end of it, and slotted the ball past Yang Han-bin.  Jeong Won-jin added a late consolation for the visitors, but it was nowhere near enough, as an unconvincing performance on the night could have erased any hopes they had for a title run this season, while the Horangi hit the summit after taking all three points.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Ulsan have won both meetings between the clubs this season, the first in March by a score of 2-1 and the second in June by a count of 3-1.  In the last match, goals from Mix Diskerud, Lee Dong-gyeong, and Kim Bo-kyung undid the islanders.  Elias Aguilar was the only one to get on the score sheet for Jeju.

Team News

There could be some concern for Jeju heading into the weekend, as both Park Jin-po and Aleks Jovanovic look set to miss the tie through injury.  There hasn't been an update as of yet on Park, but Jovanovic has a hamstring injury of sorts, although the severity is unknown at this time.  Should both be out, the likelihood is that Kang Yun-sung will start at right back, and it's possible that Kim Won-il will occupy one of the spots in central defense.

Inserting Kim into the lineup is a major concern, as he didn't look particularly good against Jeonbuk.  He was out of position defensively on a number of occasions and also went into the referee's book shortly after coming on.  If Choi Yun Kyum is willing to roll the dice a bit, there may be a spot in the starting eleven beckoning for Kim Dae-ho, who recently came over from Suwon FC.  Kim has a lot of K League experience under his belt already and could potentially be an adequate fill-in for the time being.

Oh Seung- hoon looked sharp against Jeonbuk, making several big saves to keep the islanders in the match when it looked like they were going to bend defensively.  Christian Osaguona came off the bench and provided a spark, and showed that he will indeed be a physically imposing force for opposing defenders in the league.  Choi Kyu-baek also made his debut in the starting eleven last time out, and fared decently, and should improve with more match experience.

For Ulsan, it is not expected that there will be too many changes to the starting eleven that faced Seoul on Tuesday night.  The one exception could be Mix Diskerud, who went off in the second half because of a knock to his knee.  The word is that it's only a twist, so he may be available to play on Saturday.  If he is kept out of the starting eleven, he may come off the bench.

Jason Davidson, who came over from Perth Glory in the A League in the summer transfer window seems to have recovered his fitness and could make the bench for the first time, while Dave Bulthuis is still out.

The Adversary

Kim Bo-kyong's brace helped Ulsan to a 3-1 win over FC Seoul on Tuesday night.

Ulsan boasts one of the highest powered offenses in the league, having scored 41 goals as a team as of their midweek match with FC Seoul.  They have also conceded the least amount of goals, and have been a tough team to break down this season.  Yun Young-sun, who played for Team K League against Juventus, is a major reason for this.  They have gone seven matches unbeaten since being knocked out of the ACL in the Round of 16 by Urawa Reds, and have not lost in the league since a 2-1 loss to Pohang Steelers at the Steelyard on April 5th.

Júnior Negrão has three goals and one assist in his last five matches, and will be looking to get on the score sheet once again.  He has already scored against Jeju this season, netting the first in their 2-1 win against the islanders in March.  Joo Min-kyu has also seen a lot more match action recently and has three goals and one assist in fifteen appearances this season.  The Brazilian was the third leading scorer in the league last season, and Joo is also a capable offensive threat, so it could be a long afternoon for the Jeju defense if they are not up to task.


Jeju look a completely different team with their run of form of late.  But, they still need to tighten up defensively and their ball movement is still below average at times.  On paper, this is a talented squad, and if the new additions can do what they were brought in to do, then Jeju may eventually be able to pull themselves away from relegation, but they need to continue the string of results they are on.

Ulsan have been quality in the league all season, and are considered by more than a few to potentially pip the title away from Jeonbuk this season.  After sleepwalking through the first half last Tuesday, they put their game into a higher gear after the restart to get an important victory.  

There was a time when Jeju was almost unstoppable at home.  They need to get back to that if they are going to be a credible force in the league the rest of the way in 2019.  The first half of the season is under the rug now, and it would not make sense to dwell on what has already happened.  If they can show the same confidence that got them a result on Wednesday night, they can take at least a point from this one.

Prediction: Jeju United 2-2 Ulsan Hyundai

[READK League 1 Round 24 Preview]

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