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Preview: Gwangju FC vs Asan Mugunghwa



Gwangju's form has evolved from a blip into a wobble. Boss Park Jinseop must rally his out-of-sorts Yellows for the visit of Asan Mugunghwa on Sunday. With the military side's squad obliterated by the end of national service of late, Gwangju need a win regardless of performance as the chasing pack gradually close in. 

Last Time Out

Ansan Greeners 2-1 Gwangju

A result that would have been worse were it not for Busan IPark's collapse at Seoul ELand, Gwangju suffered a dismal second half despite taking the lead in comical style on 25 minutes. From Felipe's flick on Eom Wonsang showed relentless determination to harry Hwang Injae into a costly mistake and tap into an empty net. With Eom causing havoc down the right and the Yellows dominating proceedings, Ansan boss Lim Wanseop opted for an early tactical change bringing on Kwak Seongwuk for Kim Jinwuk before the interval. Things improved almost instantaneously with Park Jinsub guilty of missing a glaring opportunity. A more confident Ansan emerged for the second half with Gwangju keeper Yun Pyeonggook denying Jang Hyeokjin from six yards, before substitute Kwak fired an effort against the post and Gustavo Vintecinco hit the bar with a header. Replacing Park Junhui from the bench, Masa Ishida brought the touch of quality and directness needed to make the breakthrough. Converting a penalty with ease that he won from Vintecinco's through ball, Ishida went on to bag a 94th-minute winner, benefiting from shambolic defending to strike a deflected shot home. Notably, the Yellows will be without Felipe for three matches after he saw red late on.

You can watch the highlights here

Asan Mugunghwa 2-3 Bucheon 1995 asan manager Park Donghyuk

Park Minseo opened the scoring for Asan in a five-goal thriller at the Yishunsin in spectacular fashion striking from outside the box into the bottom right corner on 23 minutes. With both teams wasteful in the first half, they both found a clinical edge in the second as Marlon de Jesus, brought on at the break, fired a low cross into former Busan man Jang Hyunsoo to equalise. A focal point for the visitors, Marlon created a goal from nothing on 75 minutes with a strike that Asan's Lee Kihyun should have done better with. Park Dongyuk's side looked to have salvaged a point late on with Oh Sehun bagging from the spot five minutes from time. Jeong Dahooeon saw his close-range acrobatic strike well saved before substitute Kim Reo was hauled down in front of the referee. Asan keeper Lee redeemed himself with a sublime save from Gam Hansol before Bucheon struck fromn the resultant corner. Showing intelligent movement to find himself free just six yards from goal, Nilson da Silva turned on a sixpence to bag a stoppage-time winner.

You can watch the highlights here 

                           [WATCH: Live podcast ahead of next week's FA Cup semi-finals]

Previous Meetings

Gwangju have enjoyed the better of the pairs meetings so far this season. Prior to a stalemate in their last meeting, a first home game this term for the Yellows saw them hammer Asan 4-0. A hat-trick from Felipe was supplemented by Kim Jinhwan's strike, with Ju Sejong's red card not helping matters for the visitors. Last season saw two score draws at the Guus Hiddink Stadium and one win each at the Yishunsin. The teams also met in 2017, with Gwangju running out comfortable 3-0 winners in the FA Cup.

The Adversary

Asan head to Jeollanamdo in indifferent form and with just one win in five damaging their hopes of playoff contention. Poor results of late will hardly come as much of a surprise to fans of the second division, with the military side losing a whole host of their top players due to their duty period ending. Influential midfielders Ju Sejong and Lee Myungjoo, so pivotal to last year's title win, have both returned to FC Seoul and left a gaping hole in the centre of the park. With Ahn Hyunbeom also returning to Jeju United, that's quite a shift in personnel in Asan's transition from defence to attack. Fortunately Oh Sehun's loan from Ulsan Hyundai is not bound by military duty terms so Mugunghwa do still possess some fire power up front. However, Park Donghyuk has seen a lot of experience stripped from his side and it would be quite a managerial feat should he steer them back into the top four. Asan's away from has been nothing short of spectacular this season however, winning seven from 12, including victories away at Ansan, Anyang and Busan.  Showing little fear on the road has kept them just three points from the all-important fourth place and supported relatively poor home form.



What To Watch

Gwangju's second half performance against Ansan showed worrying similarities to that shock 7-1 defeat to Anyang in July. Since that loss the Yellows have won just one in six, keeping just one clean sheet in five and failing to score more than once in the same period. In truth Park Jinseop's side were fortunate not to concede more against a rampant Ansan who had clearly done their homework. This is a Gwangju defence that is not comfortable with players running directly at them at pace. As heads dropped in both of these important away fixtures, defensive midfield protection from players such as Park Jeongsoo and Yeo Bonghoon vanished, allowing wave after wave of attack. The Yellows have undoubtedly shown a soft underbelly in recent weeks. Frustration and petulance also seems to be creeping in. With the influential Lee Euddeum absent this weekend, Felipe's sending off and hefty fine for kicking a water bottle at an official see him miss three vital fixtures. All this makes Yeo Reum's absence and flirtation with the bench seems all the more strange. An experienced head is certainly needed in the middle of the park to halt the slump and keep heads cool. Surely the club captain, with the club since it's inception, should be able to provide that.

                                                 [READ: Alternative KLeague 1 tables]

Prediction

Considering Asan's changed personnel, this match comes at a perfect time for Park Jinseop's men. Under some pressure for the first time this season, the 42-year-old needs a win of any kind to steady the ship. With nearest rivals Busan facing two away trips before hosting Gwangju themselves, a mini revival in the coming weeks could restore that gap to second place that has given fans at the Guus Hiddink comfort for so long. I expect quite a nervy performance from the hosts who will have to focus play more centrally rather than getting balls in from wide for Felipe to attack, but should they get an early goal I envisage a comfortable victory against an evolving Asan line-up.

Gwangju 2-0 Asan Mugunghwa

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