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Preview: Asan Mugunghwa vs Jeonnam Dragons



Asan Mugunghwa looked to be headed for defeat once again as they  conceded late against Ansan Greeners but struck with a quick response and managed a draw in their midweek fixture.  Jeonnam could not manage to come away with three points against Seoul E-Land, and had to settle for just a point last time out, but are in some good form lately as they are unbeaten in their past five matches.  Asan have been struggling lately with the effects of the turnover starting to show since the magnificent twelve left last month.  KLU's Branko Belan previews the Monday night fixture.

Match: Asan Mugunghwa vs Jeonnam Dragons
Venue: Yi Sun-shin Stadium
Kickoff: Monday September 23rd, 2019; 20:00 KST

Last Time Out

Asan Mugunghwa 1-1 Ansan Greeners 

Asan were lucky to come away with a point last time out against Ansan Greeners, leaving it late to find an equalizer after they had gone behind with just three minutes of regular time left.  The first half chances favored the visitors, with Vintecinco fizzing a shot wide of the far post on 27 minutes, while Kim Yeon-soo also came close to getting on the score sheet, but his headed effort from a corner finished just over the bar.

Things did not improve much in the second half as neither side had many concrete chances to speak of until late on.  Lee Ki-hyun was forced to make a couple of saves which kept the match level until Ansan went in front, when Masatoshi Ishida was played in behind the defence with a ball that split the centre halves, and he calmly beat the Asan 'keeper one on one and it looked like everything had been settled.

Asan were not to be outdone, however, and they pulled level in the final minute of regular time when Nam Hee-cheol pounced on a rebound which had hit the bar following a long throw in, tapping in from close quarters to save a point for the military men.

Highlights: here

Seoul E-Land 2-2 Jeonnam Dragons

Jeonnam took the lead just before the hour mark on the road against Seoul E-Land, but could not hold on long enough to take all three points as the hosts were able to snatch a draw with the last kick of the ball.  The home side already hit the front after only five minutes when Robson was played in behind the defence, and made no mistake against Park Jun-hyuk, beating the Dragons 'keeper low to his right.  E-Land continued to attack strongly, and were unlucky not to go two up on 24 minutes when Yun Sang-ho's shot from outside the box rattled the woodwork.  The early marker from the Brazilian would be the difference at the half.

Jeonnam came out determined to level the match, and did so right after the break, when Bruno Nunes, who came on as a substitute in the first half for Kim Gyeong-min, found the back of the net, converting Lee Yoo-hyun's cutback into the roof of the net.  Jeonnam would slowly start to take control of the match after the equalizer, and they were in front just before the hour mark thanks to some suspect defending by the hosts inside their own area, allowing Jung Jae-hee to somehow navigate through a mass of bodies and put a right-footed swinger into the net.

It looked as though Jeonnam would be able to hold on for the win, but E-Land stole a point at the end when Choi Jong-hwan got chest control of the ball in the area following a long throw in and proceeded to smash a left-footed volley into the net, meaning that the second division side from the capital now sit level with Daejeon Citizen on points at the lower half of the table.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

The two teams will be meeting for the last time this season and it has been even thus  far, with both sides winning once and one match ending in a draw.  Asan won on the opening weekend of the season by a convincing margin, but the last time the teams met, Jeonnam went out 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Bruno Baio and Jung Jae-hee.  

Based on current form, it could very well be said that Jeonnam have a slight edge heading into the match, regardless of both teams' current position in the table, but Asan need points badly - at this point, if they drop any more than they already have in recent weeks, there may be too much ground for them to make up down the stretch to be in contention for the playoffs.

Team News

The youth movement continues to  grow at Asan, where another player made his club debut, namely midfielder Kim Kyung-woo.  There were two other firsts in the match against Ansan, as Nam Hee-cheol scored his first goal for the club, and Park Sung-woo picked up his first assist in the yellow and blue.

Asan brought in several players on loan over the winter before the season began, and as such, will need to top up the ranks for next season as the likes of Oh Se-hun and Kim Re-oh return to their parent clubs.  Park Dong-hyuk already has a massive task in front of him to keep the team competitive for the rest of the season, but all hope has not yet been lost.  If they can manage some good results down the stretch, they still have a chance of sneaking into the playoffs come season's end, but they will have to get results against the teams in front of them to do so.

The showing against Gwangju last weekend was demoralizing to say the least, and things could have gone from bad to worse had they not ended up pulling out a draw against the Green Wolves.  As already mentioned, anything less than a win against the Dragons may leave them permanently on the outside looking in.

Asan's goalscorer from the last match will be out for the encounter against Jeonnam as he also picked up a yellow card, his third of the season.  Park Dong-hyuk has been doing a bit of lineup shuffling lately, but it was understandable last time out as the defending league champions completely fell apart defensively in the second half last weekend and there were wholesale changes in midweek as a result.  The staple players such as Oh Se-hun, Yang Tae-ryeol, and Jang Soon-hyeok, as well as goalkeeper Lee Ki-hyun will most certainly  keep their places in the starting eleven, as will captain Park Se-jik, but the rest of the formation could look different depending on whether Asan opts for three or four at the back.

For Jeonnam, Bruno Baio has been in fine form of late.  The Brazilian got off to a bit of a slow start with his transition into K League 2, but has netted in four of his past five matches, including the winner against Asan the last time the two sides met.  He has all but replaced Bruno Nunes as the main man up top, and will be one to watch again as his quick movement around the box could cause problems for an Asan defence which has been nothing short of suspect lately.

Their current unbeaten run has included wins over their opponents on the weekend and Bucheon 1995, and draws against Suwon FC, Busan IPark and E-Land.  A win could see them move further up the table, while Asan will have to hope to at least hold down fifth spot to themselves for another week as they look to inch closer to the top four.  Jeonnam will however be without the services of their number four Kim Geon-ung, who picked up a third bookable offence last time out.  Kim Gyeong-min played only the first half hour last time out, so he may be questionable for selection this round.

The Adversary

Bruno Nunes against Seoul E-Land 09.18.19
Bruno Nunes leveled the match just after halftime against Seoul E-Land.


Jeonnam have been playing with a lot more confidence of late, and it has a lot to do with the fact that  they have been finding the net much more compared to earlier in the season.  With twelve goals over the span of their unbeaten run, they figure to put the ball in the net at least once when they take to the pitch against Asan on the weekend.

They looked the much better side over the course of ninety minutes when the two met in August, and the Dragons have proven to be more than a handful for all teams in their path over the past month.  It is arguably their best run of the season, and despite being on the road, will want to keep it going.  They will have a  tough stretch to finish the season, with matches away to the top two, Busan IPark and Gwangju FC in that order, and end at home against Ansan Greeners, so the time for them to make a move up the grid is now.

Prediction

Asan have not been able to find a winning formula, especially now that there is a bit of a gape in the middle of the pitch with the departures of FC Seoul duo Ju Se-jong and Lee Myung-joo, both of whom were instrumental to the club's success during their time there.  Growing pains will likely  continue, but they need to pick themselves up after less than convincing form over the past while.  

Jeonnam have their own reasons for wanting the result, and they have the motivation for it as well.  They know that they will not be playing the same Asan team which opened the season against them, and they can see that as an advantage.  

However, Asan was game enough to fight back for a draw last Wednesday night, and should be at least good enough to do the same as they are at home, where, while their form has left much to be desired, there are still postseason implications in consideration for them.  Their backs are against the wall, and they will have to play like it if they want all three points from this one, as it would also mean taking the season series from the side currently sitting ninth in the table.

Predicted Score: Asan Mugunghwa 2-1 Jeonnam Dragons

[READ: K League 2 Round 29 Preview.]

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