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Preview: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs Sangju Sangmu


K League 1 leaders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors return to action on Saturday evening as they look to prolong their stay at the summit by claiming victory against Sangju Sangmu. With the FA Cup on the horizon and a number of key players recently discharged, the military side have a number of problems to concern themselves with ahead of this fixture. Can manager Kim Tae-wan rally his troops to cause an upset?

Last Time Out

FC Seoul 0-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors' dominance at Seoul's home ground continued with a convincing two-nil victory. The result marked the fifth consecutive win at Seoul World Cup Stadium for the North Jeolla side and eight games, both home and away, undefeated against their capital rivals. Jeonbuk got off to an attacking start with striker Samuel Rosa firing in a bullet-header in the eighth minute to open proceedings. The away side maintained the pressure and doubled their lead through Ricardo Lopes in the 23rd minute. The ball was played through by Son Jun-ho into the path of Moon Seon-min. With only the 'keeper to beat, however, Moon opted to square the ball to the onrushing Lopes to tap into an empty net. Moon Seon-min would continue to pose a threat throughout the entire match but his multiple efforts came up short.

Seoul did have an opportunity to claw back a goal when Choi Bo-kyung fouled Pešić late on within the penalty area. Jung Won-jin's penalty would not only be saved by Song Beomg-keun however, but the goalkeeper managed to recover quickly to save the rebound and maintain a clean sheet.



Sangju Sangmu 1-1 Daegu FC
Sangju Sangmu's plans to give their departing players a winning home send-off were scuppered late on by Daegu FC, with both sides eventually having to share the spoils. Sangju's Park Yong-ji opened the scoring in the fifth minute with his tenth goal of the season. Park was played through on goal by Lee Kyu-seong, taking the ball around goalkeeper Jo Hyun-woo and slotting into an empty net. Daegu were resilient, however, carving out multiple chances to level proceedings yet it took them until the 85th minute to finally produce a goal against a stubborn Sangju backline. Lee Tae-hee was deemed to have fouled Park Byung-hyun whilst defending a corner, with the referee pointing to the penalty spot. Striker Edgar Silva made no mistake when presented with the spot-kick, levelling proceedings.


Team News

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors return from the break with a clean bill of health and zero suspensions, poising them perfectly for the season's run-in. One issue that may be taken into consideration, however, is the tiredness of defenders Kim Jin-su, Lee Yong and Kwon Kyung-won who all represented their country over the international period. José Morais could well opt for a wingback combination of Lee Ju-young and Choi Chul-soon, in addition to a centre back pairing of Hong Jeong-ho and Kim Min-hyeok, to ensure his team's defence are at their most alert for this clash.

The Adversary

Sangju Sangmu's discharged players give their farewells to the home crowd.

The biggest concern regarding Sangju Sangmu coming into this match is the mystery surrounding their team selection. Twelve players will return to their parent club on September 17th, including key names such as Sim Dong-woon, Kim Min-woo and captain Yoon Bit-garam. With these players having already bid their farewells to the home crowd against Daegu, they may well be kept from selection here as, not only could they be considered to have checked out, but the upcoming FA Cup semifinal on Wednesday means that manager Kim Tae-wan needs to start preparing his new-look squad for one of the club's most important fixtures of the year.

The manager will have likely utilised the recent two-week break to start concocting a new system. If it is to be employed on Saturday, the chances are that Kim Min-woo could well be replaced by Kang Sang-woo whereas the influential Yoon Bit-garam could be replaced by former Bayern Leverkusen man Ryu Seung-woo. Sangju's decision to take in players last summer is now set to reap its rewards as they do still have a batch of quality players available for this fixture. However, teething problems may still persist so do not be surprised if the manager still brings into play some departing faces in a bid to force a result.

[READ: Sangju Sangmu's Turning Point]

What To Watch

Regardless of the potential absentees, one key player for Sangju Sangmu remains. Park Yong-ji is currently enjoying the best season of his career at the military club, scoring ten goals (nine from open play) to make him the second-highest Korean scorer in the division behind Ulsan's Kim Bo-kyung. If any player in this Sangju side is likely to cause Jeonbuk issues, it may well be him.

His form is a testament to his manager Kim Tae-wan, who has also delivered on getting the best out of the likes of Park Gi-dong and Joo Min-kyu in recent years during their military service. Park is set to return to his parent club Incheon United in January but, with their top-flight future uncertain, the forward will undoubtedly want to continue his current form in a bid to attract K League 1 suitors if need be.

Prediction

Regardless of what team Sangju Sangmu choose to field Jeonbuk are certainly in the stronger position and form coming into this match, with three points expected and their stay at the summit to be prolonged for another week. Questions may be posed of José Morais men if Sangju manager Kim Tae-wan does decide to utilise his outgoing guard one last time but, with an FA Cup semifinal on the horizon, he may well opt to try out a less used squad selection to give these backup players valuable game time ahead of Wednesday.

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