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Preview: Gangwon FC vs Jeju United

Jeju United enter their away match against Gangwon FC on a current eight match winless run, although they have managed to pull out draws in two of their past three.  On the flip side, although Gangwon won last time out against Gyeongnam FC, it is their only win in their past five.  While still in fourth spot in the table, and with an outside chance at the ACL, they need to turn things around down the stretch if they are still going to be in the conversation by the time the split rolls around, while everything will depend on how the Championship Round schedule is laid out after that.  Having already had success against the islanders this season, they certainly have a chance to send things back in the right direction this coming Sunday.  KLU's Branko Belan takes a closer look at the weekend fixture.

Match: Gangwon FC vs Jeju United
Venue: Chuncheon Songam Leports Town
Kickoff: Sunday September 15th, 2019; 17:00 KST

Last Time Out

Gangwon FC 2-0 Gyeongnam FC

Lee Yeong-jae converted from the spot just over ten minutes from time and Han Kook-young added a second in the first minute of injury time, helping Gangwon to their first win since the end of July.

Gangwon dominated in terms of possession, with 63 per cent of the ball over the ninety minutes and had three times the number of attempts on goal compared to Gyeongnam.  After conceding three goals in a match on three occasions from their previous four times out against Daegu FC, Suwon Bluewings, and Jeonbuk Hyundai, it must have come as a relief for them to keep their back end clean.  

Highlights: here

Suwon Bluewings 1-0 Jeju United

Jeju's last time out against Suwon was yet another uninspiring chapter to a season which has been full of them.  The hosts didn't look particularly in full force themselves, as they didn't field many of their marquee players but still managed to come away with a win.  Suwon had a distinct edge in possession while both teams had double digit attempts at goal, but for the islanders, with only three coming on target, getting a result would prove to be a difficult task for a team, which despite being among the best in terms of chances created this season, their form in front of goal has left quite a lot to be desired.

Koo Dae-young scored the only goal of the match on the hour mark, slipping in behind the central defence to head home from close range after a Kim Jong-woo cutback led to a chance for Han Eui-gwon after the Bluewings had broken down the left.  Despite their efforts the rest of the way, Jeju were not able to find an equalizer, and they remain at the bottom of the league needing a miracle to move up based on their current form.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Gangwon and Jeju have met already twice this season with each side taking victory once.  Gangwon won the first match between the two in convincing fashion back in April, while the islanders were able to edge out three points when the sides met a month later.

Jeju still has an overall edge in the head to head series with ten wins overall to Gangwon's eight, while the teams have played to a draw three times.  Jeju have outscored Gangwon overall in the series as well, but results in recent years should suggest that with Gangwon at home this time around, it should make them the favorites to win.

Team News

Gangwon will be without Kang Ji-hoon who picked up his third yellow against Gyeongnam but all other players should be available for selection, as there doesn't look to be any injuries to key players.  Lee Yeong-jae looked good and got on the score sheet, so it may be a bit of a toss-up between him and Lee Jae-kwon in midfield.

Kim Hyun-wook was on the bench last round and didn't get a chance to play, but since Gangwon's opponent this weekend will be his former club, it would not be a surprise to see him get some game action.  He scored Gangwon's second goal just before half-time in the first meeting of the season between the two sides, and he could well be eager to put a good foot forward against the islanders this time around.

The return of Ahn Hyun-beom to the Jeju fold has had a positive impact on the team thus far, but Choi Yun-kyum needs to make him a regular starter for the rest of the season if the islanders are to have any chance of avoiding relegation.  Before leaving the club to do his military service, he was a regular fixture on the right and was effective in tandem with Kim Ho-nam, before the latter also went away before returning last fall.

Jeju played with three in the back against Suwon, and it once again didn't pay off.  Jeju doesn't have the quickness and ability to cover opposing attackers with a three man line and need to make four across the back the norm for the rest of the season.  They have already dropped too many points from winning positions this season, and need to establish some momentum with the season quickly coming to a close.

Christian Osaguona in action against Suwon Bluewings 08.30.19 in K League 1.
Christian Osaguona is not available for Sunday's match.

Christian Osaguona picked up a yellow card in the last match, his third since joining the club, and that means he will not be available because of card accumulation, which means that Jeju could likely go back to two up top, with a possible pairing being Magno and Yun Il-lok, both of whom started last time out.  Cho Yong-hyung made his return for Jeju and will likely be in the starting lineup again.  There is no time to tinker with the lineup anymore; Choi needs to put his most trusted players out there on Sunday if there is any chance to take anything away from the match.

The Adversary

Gangwon FC 2-0 Gyeongnam FC, K League 1 09.01.19
Gangwon came away with a win last time out against Gyeongnam FC.

Gangwon have been porous defensively of late, conceding nine goals in their past five matches.  It doesn't look so bad on paper, but as already mentioned, those nine goals where split three ways against some very tough competition, while they managed two cleans sheets in that time, with the other one coming away against FC Seoul in mid-August.

Another former Jeju player, goalkeeper Kim Ho-jun seems to have established himself as the club's number one between the sticks, but he needs a bit more help in front of him in terms of consistency from the back line.  

This team is capable of scoring goals, and they showed already this season that they are capable of doing it against Jeju but looked flat the second time around.  Having said that, they are only five points out of a possible ACL spot for next season, something the club would have thought unimaginable at the beginning of the season.  The problem is that they have not had a great deal of success against most teams in the top half of the table, and if they do manage to hold on for a berth in the Championship Round, they will most certainly have a difficult go of it to challenge the club from the capital for third place.  A lot will depend on how results go this weekend; if they are able to take all three points against Jeju, and other results go their way, they could inch closer to that elusive goal, but there is still a lot of work to be done to get there.


The two teams have split the first two between them this season and both have struggled considerably lately, so it may be a bit difficult to see which way this one could go.  A lot will depend on the lineup selection for Jeju; there has been too much inconsistency with rotation over the course of the season with fitness also being a concern.

If the likes of Elias Aguilar, who has been clutch for them lately, Yun Il-lok, who has been arguably their best player this season, and Nam Jun-jae, who came over from Incheon in the swap deal which sent Kim Ho-nam the other way and has played some good minutes for the club so far, are involved, then there is a chance for Jeju to take something away from the match.  If the final selection is muddled, it will give Gangwon a bit more impetus to chase the result with home field already in their pocket for this one.

However, based on performance quality alone over the first two, Gangwon have the edge this season, and may just nip this one in the end, even if Jeju are in desperate need of points in their attempt to get away from the relegation zone.

Predicted Score: Gangwon FC 2-1 Jeju United

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