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Preview: Jeju United vs Seongnam FC

After yet another loss, confidence is not high in the Jeju camp ahead of their weekend match with Seongnam FC, but astonishingly enough, they still find themselves only four points out of tenth spot at the moment.  Seongnam drew last weekend against Suwon Bluewings, and now sit ninth in the table safe from the drop zone, and knowing that a win could see them move up depending on results elsewhere.  It should play out as a very tight and tense affair as the matches between the two have traditionally been.  KLU's Branko Belan previews the K League 1 Round 30 fixture.

Match: Jeju United vs Seongnam FC
Venue: Jeju World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday September 21st, 2019; 17:00 KST

Last Time Out

Gangwon FC 2-0 Jeju United

Gangwon got their second victory against the islanders last weekend thanks to a stellar first half which saw them up by a pair of goals at the break.  Kim Ji-hyun broke the deadlock after nineteen minutes converting a first-time volley from close range after the ball had been crossed in from the left.  He would double his tally and the score line for Gangwon on 36 minutes as he took another pass from the left, this time on the ground and coolly slotted home nudging past Choi Kyu-baek for the first touch, leaving Oh Seung-hoon rooted on his line.  The defender was immediately substituted off for Elias Aguilar in hopes of creating more of an attacking presence.

Aguilar did affect the match in the second half as Jeju looked better in possession of the ball, and they did have their chances, but they were stifled time and time again by their former number one 'keeper Kim Ho-jun, who refused to allow the ball to cross his goal line.  Jeju came close in the late stages of the match with their best chance, but Yun Il-lok was denied from a close range header and Gangwon kept a clean sheet to round out what was an efficient performance, allowing them to keep a three point gap between them and Daegu for fourth place.

Highlights: here

Seongnam FC 0-0 Suwon Bluewings

Seongnam picked up a point at home against Suwon in a match that should have had seen both clubs get on the score sheet, but in the end it finished goalless.  The first quarter of an hour didn't see either club really get into the match, but Seongnam could have gone in front from a corner on 19 minutes, but couldn't find a way to put the ball in the back of the net.  The hosts continued to control proceedings and could have been one up in the 38th minute when they were given a penalty, but Mathias Courer hit the post and the rebound ended up over the bar.  Seongnam have had difficulties finishing their chances this season; Suwon looked pleased just to not have conceded before the break.

Seongnam continued to be the more assertive side in the second half, but there were not many sure chances to speak of, as they tried on too many occasions to pass instead of shooting in attacking positions.  Suwon could have stole the match with under ten minutes to play, but Yeom Ki-hun's free kick was palmed aside by Kim Dong-jun.  Kim Jong-woo should have sealed the win for them only minutes before the end of regular time as he had a clear chance at goal when the ball fell to him after Dejan's deflected shot found its way into his path, but he skied over the bar from the top of the six-yard box.  Park Tae-jun had the last good scoring opportunity for either side before the final whistle, but No Dong-geun got down low and stretched to his left to keep the ball out.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

This will be the third time the teams have faced each other this season.  When they first went head to head in April, it finished in a 1-1 draw, with now departed Tiago putting Jeju in the lead just after the half hour, while Mathias Courer leveled the match on the hour.  The second meeting saw Seongnam come to the island in June and leave with a 2-1 victory thanks to goals from Eder and Kim Hyun-sung.  Eder's goal in particular was a beauty as he struck the underside of the crossbar with his effort from outside the box.  Lee Chang-min scored a scorcher of his own in the 75th minute but the islanders were not able to hold the result.

Overall, the series is dead even with both clubs having won seven matches against each other, while another twelve have ended in a draw.  Seongnam has a slight edge in the goal scoring department, having netted 33 goals to Jeju's 30.  What is not lost is how tight the matches have been between the two and Saturday's match should be no exception.

Team News

Jeju will welcome back one of their most dynamic players from a few seasons ago, as Yoon Bit-garam has finally finished his military service with Sangju Sangmu. He has been one of the best players at the military club this season, totaling eight goals and three assists in twenty-seven appearances.  He has been a regular fixture in the starting eleven this year and has been involved in a third of the team's goals according to Transfermarkt.

Yoon Bit-garam vs Gyeongnam FC 08.03.19
Yoon Bit-garam in action against Gyeongnam FC early last month.

The last time he played for the islanders in 2017, he appeared seventeen times, scoring twice and setting up three goals.  It remains to be seen how he will be included in the lineup, but one thing is for sure - he is the kind of creative influence Jeju needs if they are to salvage what's left of a very disappointing season.  Baek Dong-gyu also makes his return to the islanders.  The 28 year old centre back appeared fifteen times for the military club this season, almost half of them being starts.  He will provide some much-needed depth for the back line.

There are no suspensions in the side, and they will get back Christian Osaguona from his one-match ban for yellow card accumulation which forced him to miss the match against Gangwon last weekend.

For Seongnam, it has been concerning to see the absence of Eder in the lineup.  He has not played for the club since a 1-0 win over Incheon United about a month and a half ago where he registered an assist, but was taken off very early in the second half.  Widely considered as perhaps Seongnam's most explosive offensive threat, it would make sense that he should be playing more, but has started roughly just over half of the team's matches this season.  Football doesn't seem to be in question, as he is not injured, so there could be something away from the pitch which is having a negative influence, causing Nam Ki-il to distance him from the team.

The Magpies also have no suspensions heading into the match, and may likely keep a similar lineup to the one which drew with Suwon Bluewings a week ago.

The Adversary

Mathias Courer vs Suwon Bluewings 09.15.19
Mathias Courer missed a penalty which could have secured victory for Seongnam in the last round against Suwon Bluewings.

Seongnam enter the match against Jeju with only one win in their last five, and winless in their last three.  They have had trouble scoring goals this season - their twenty-three goals as a team ties them with Incheon United for the lowest output in the league, with the aforementioned Eder topping the roster with five.

This will be Seongnam's final match against a member of the bottom six as it currently stands this season.  Thus far, they have amassed a record of five wins, four draws and five losses, with a pair of wins against Sangju being the positive, but a pair of losses to both Pohang and Gyeongnam being the low point.  How will they come out against the islanders on Saturday afternoon?  A win could see them move up the table depending on results elsewhere, but if they cannot solve their scoring woes, they won't come away with more than a point.


The current situation with Jeju is in dire straits.  Their last win came against FC Seoul in the summer, which now seems like some time ago.  The hope is that the return of Yoon can inject some life into what has looked like a listless squad, that is, if he is given a chance to play.  Jeju have a wealth of players at their disposal, but they have not been used effectively, which has contributed much to their current situation.

There is, however, no excuse for them not to get a win this weekend.  The split is just around the corner and it has already been known for some time that Jeju will be in contention for relegation, so a win against a traditionally tricky rival would do well to give them some confidence as the regular portion of the season comes to a close in a few weeks time.  It will be a tight one, but Jeju have to pick themselves up and get a win at home, otherwise the drop will be looming ever closer.

Predicted Score: Jeju United 1-0 Seongnam FC

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