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Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Asan Mugunghwa

Jeonnam Dragons fell to a heavy 4-2 defeat to FC Anyang on the road after already having gone down three goals by the break last time out in K League 2.  They now have only one win in their past five.  Asan Mugunghwa bid farewell to twelve of their best this past weekend and were a much different looking side when they took to the pitch against Ansan Greeners on Monday night at the Wa Stadium.  They managed to come away with a 2-1 away win which opened up a four point cushion on their rivals in fifth, and now has them only two points off third in the table.    Will Asan be able to build some momentum with a new-look squad?  KLU's Branko Belan previews the match.

Match: Jeonnam Dragons vs Asan Mugunghwa
Venue: Gwangyang Football Stadium
Kickoff: Monday August 19th, 2019; 19:00 KST

Last Time Out

FC Anyang 4-2 Jeonnam Dragons

Jeonnam fell convincingly away to Anyang last time out as they went down three goals by the end of the first half.  Kim Sang-won, Manuel Palacios, and Alex Lima did the damage, as the Purples' scoring exploits were once again put on display.  Kim Geon-ung would get one back for the Dragons midway through the second half, only for Choi Kwang-hoon to restore the three goal advantage on 70 minutes.  Anyang went a man down five minutes later when Cho Kyu-sung was sent off.  Kim Young-wook converted from the spot late on to put less of a damper on the result, but it finished as yet another in the loss column for Jeonnam who face Bucheon FC and Suwon FC in back-to-back matches away following this weekend's fixture against Asan.

Highlights: here

Ansan Greeners 1-2 Asan Mugunghwa

In what may be seen as a bit of a surprise result, Asan Mugunghwa won away to Ansan Greeners on Monday night, solidifying their hold on fourth spot in the standings.  Things in the first half started evenly enough in terms of possession for both sides, but it was the hosts who slowly started to take control of the match in the latter stages before the break.  In particular, Jang Hyeok-jin was a constant threat on the right and Jin Chang-su would have had them in front on a couple of occasions, but Lee Ki-hyeon was there to deny him from point blank range just after the half hour mark.  Ansan got the better of the chances, but couldn't find a way past Asan's new 'keeper, and the teams went to the interval knotted at nil-nil.

Things could not have started any worse for Ansan after the break, as they went a goal behind thanks to an own goal from Hwang In-jae.  Asan won a free kick in a dangerous position after Green Wolves captain Lee In-jae fouled Oh Se-hun.  Yang Tae-ryoul stepped up to take the free kick, and his venomous effort struck the bar before also striking the backside of the 'keeper on the way in.

Asan would go two up thanks to their number nine on 67 minutes.  Asan were awarded successive corners after a good spell of pressure on Ansan's back four, and second half substitute Ju Se-jong swung it in from the right for Korea's U-20 star to head in at the near post.

Park Jin-seop would pull one back for the home side ten minutes later, converting from in close after some sloppy defending left him alone to slot home.  The play was originally called offside but the goal was allowed to stand following a review.  They would continue to press forward for an equalizer, and almost found one at the death, but Lee Ki-hyeon made an incredible reflex save on a headed effort on his doorstep and was able to preserve what could be a huge three points down the road for Asan.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

This will be the third meeting of the season between the two teams, with Asan securing four points out of a possible six thus far.  The last time they met, it finished 1-1 with Bruno Nunes and Ko Mu-yeol getting the goals for Jeonnam and Asan, respectively.  It could have been a much better result on the night for the former military side, and likely should have been as the Dragons were a man down on 39 minutes after Nick Ansell was sent off with a straight red, but it turned out to be a missed opportunity in the end.

Team News

Jeonnam's new summer signing Bruno Baio has been largely unimpressive in his four appearances thus far, picking up cards in three consecutive matches which caused him to miss the clash against Anyang.  However, he did make back-to-back starts against Seoul E-Land and Gwangju FC, so there is a good chance that he will be back in the side for the tilt against Asan.

Jeonnam continue to struggle form-wise having only one win in their last five, and, should they not be able to get a result against Asan, their prospects of moving up the table in the near future will begin to fade fast.  Kim Young-wook picked up a third yellow card last match and will not be available for selection. 

For Asan, it will take a bit of time to see how the new-look Mugunghwa stack up against the rest of the league, but things certainly did get off to a good start with a victory last Monday night.  

Lee Ki-hyeon put in a stellar performance in his first start of the season, making several critical saves during the match to preserve a morale-building three points for the group.  Park Se-jik will be the new veteran presence to look to in the side, as he is the player with the most experience with the current group.  He took up an attacking role sitting in behind Oh Se-hun and newly-signed Lee Jae-gun, who should also figure prominently in the near future.

After gaining some playing experience with the initial group earlier in the season, Yang Tae-ryoul showed well against Ansan, scoring the first goal, and should see more time in the side in the coming weeks as well.

The biggest question will be how a fresh back line will be able to work together as a unit against the tougher teams in the league.  They passed their first test well enough, but need to guard against soaking up too much pressure if they wish not to concede against tougher competition.  Debutants Jeong Won-young and Kim Ki-young fared well, but will need more match experience in their legs to establish themselves as Asan's new fullback duo.

However, Park Dong-hyuk is assured of victory on the trip to Gwangyang.

"I am confident that we will be able to win the match against Jeonnam, and that should help to alleviate any concerns regarding the weakening of the power of our squad," he said.

There are no suspensions so the expectation is that there will be little change to the side that faced Ansan, as Park Dong-hyuk will want to encourage continuity in the side.

In other club news, it was reported that Asan Mugunghwa will fold at the end of the season according to the Daejeon Ilbo.  The club faced a similar dilemma at the end of last season because of the inability of the Police Agency to submit a recruiting plan for the 2019 season.

What this will mean for the future of the club is still very much up in the air.  Although the report states that Asan city council has decided for the moment that creating a citizen club is financially unfeasible, there will be much more to be considered on the matter in the future.  One course of action would be to move Sangju Sangmu to Asan, but even that is questionable at best considering the proximity between the city and the military base itself.

The football club will have time to prepare a countermeasure to present to the city council in terms of their plans moving forward, which is also to include the U-18 team, so everything is not as cut and dry as it may seem at current, but once again, the future is very much up in the air.

The Adversary

Oh Se-hun celebrates scoring against Ansan.

The first run out for Asan's younger looking squad was a success, as they picked up three points and sit only two points behind FC Anyang for third best in the division.  While one match will do little to determine whether or not the club will have long-term success the rest of the way in 2019, a positive start is a good way to build chemistry within the team.

In Park, Asan has a coach of immeasurable talent because of his ability to identify combinations of young players and those more experienced and how to insert them into a squad.  The acquisitions of Kim Do-yeop, Park Se-jik and Jung Da-hwon, combined with the existing young talent at the club the likes of Kim Re-oh and Jang Sung-hyeok should make last year's champions an exciting outfit to watch.  The biggest concern, however, is how to maintain consistency up top following the return of second-leading K2 goalscorer Ko Mu-yeol to Jeonbuk Hyundai in the top flight.  Asan have known to play two and three in attack at times this season, so it will be a point to consider Asan's tactical choices in the coming weeks.


Jeonnam will do their utmost to pick it up after a disappointing showing against Anyang, but know that they have to be much better in front of goal if three points are to be had.

Asan will have gained a lot of confidence off the back of their latest win, but also realize there is quite a bit of work to be done if they want to come away with all three points against the Dragons.  Their performance against the same side was not up to par to say the least the last time the two met, and they can ill afford to let another opportunity slip away.

Asan may find it a tough go with a new side just getting acquainted with one another, but if their first showing together is any indication of what is to be expected moving forward, then there are a lot of positives to build on.  Ju Se-jong and Lee Myung-joo will want to leave the club on a high note.  There is no guarantee that either will start, but they are sure to be an inspiration for those just breaking into the squad.  If Asan can produce a similar performance as they did against Ansan, then they should be able to continue their winning ways.

Predicted Score: Jeonnam Dragons 1-2 Asan Mugunghwa

[READ: K League 2 Round 24 Preview]

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