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Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Busan IPark

Jeonnam Dragons welcome Busan IPark to the Gwangyang Stadium this Saturday as both teams look to bounce back after draws last time out. Jeonnam, unbeaten in three, are looking keep their slim playoff chances alive, while Busan will be desperate to return to winning ways after dumping a three goal lead into the Han River before the international break. 

Last Time Out

Suwon FC 2-2 Jeonnam Dragons

Jeonnam rescued a point away to Suwon FC in their last game thanks to goals from two of their Brazilians. They capitalised on a lively start with a goal on 21 minutes. Suwon keeper Jeon Su-hyeon failed to deal with Kim Gyeong-min's floated cross from the left, and when Jeong Jae-hee put the ball back into the danger area, Jeonnam's Bruno Baio rose highest to nod home for his third goal in as many games.

Suwon restored parity shortly after the restart when Cho Yu-min's low drive deflected off Kwak Kwang-seon and past keeper Park Joon-hyeok. Things went from bad to worse for Jeonnam when Park then spilled Kim Joo-yeop's whipped cross right at the feet of Kim Ji-min, and the on-loan Pohang forward poked in to give Suwon the lead.

Jeonnam pushed for an equaliser in the final stages and substitute Bruno Nunes was denied by a top save by Jeon Su-hyeon, but Suwon couldn't hold out for the win. In the final minute of added time, Nunes bundled his way into the box and swept home the latest of equalisers.

Seoul E-Land 3-3 Busan IPark

Busan IPark will want to forget their trip to the capital after throwing away a three-goal lead at the Jamsil Olympic Stadium. Busan started brightly and took the lead when Diego Mauricio wriggled free inside the box and forced Kim Young-Kwang into a fine low save, only for Soma Novothny to tap in the rebound. The Hungarian striker was on hand to score again on the half-hour mark after Kim Myung-joon's effort was blocked on the line. Busan looked to have had the game wrapped up five minutes later when Novothny met Lee Dong-joon's teasing cross with a fine diving header inside the six-yard box, but Seoul E-Land had other ideas.

Kim Min-gyoon pulled one back before half time, curling in from 25 yards after turning into space behind the Busan midfield. E-Land then reduced the deficit to one goal ten minutes after the restart, Choi Han-sol driving home a fierce effort from similar range. The home side completed an unlikely comeback on 79 minutes, Douglas Coutinho with a diving header from Kim Tae-hyun's inch-perfect cross.

Both teams had chances to win it in the dying stages, with Busan's hattrick hero Soma Novothny somehow conspiring to miss a gaping goal from point-blank range in stoppage time. The game ended 3-3, and Busan were left to rue two dropped points.

Previous Meetings

Jeonnam Dragons have the better head-to-head record between these teams, with 17 wins to Busan IPark's 13. The meetings this season have been tight affairs, however. Jeonnam won 1-0 the last time Busan visited, a Kim Geon-ung goal enough for the home side in a well-drilled, watertight performance.

Busan got their revenge when Jeonnam visited the Gudeok Stadium in May, an early Kim Jin-gyu goal separating the sides. Neither side has managed to register an away goal in these encounters so far this year.

Team News

Busan IPark will be without centre back Kim Myung-joon after he picked up his sixth yellow card of the season in the draw with Seoul E-Land. His defensive partner Aleksandar Susnjar missed the trip to Seoul, and if the Australian is deemed unfit, Hwang Joon-ho and Yoo Soo-cheol could line up in the centre of defence.

Busan have also been without playmaker Romulo for the last two games. Kim Jin-gyu has impressed in his place, but Busan will hope the Brazilian is fit to return for the trip to Jeonnam. There are also fitness concerns over right back Kim Moon-hwan, who missed Korea's recent international games, and striker Lee Jeong-hyeop, who played the first half of Korea's draw with Georgia but was absent from the squad for Tuesday's qualifier with Turkmenistan.

Coach Cho Deok-jae will have to decide whether to stick with Diego Mauricio on the wing. The mercurial Brazilian had a lively first half at the Jamsil but faded in the second as Busan collapsed. Kwon Yong-hyun will hope to keep his place in attacking midfield after an impressive showing last time out.

Who To Watch

Soma Novothny - A Point to Prove?

Soma Novothny celebrates scoring against Seoul E-Land in Busan's last match.
Hungarian forward Soma Novothny might have taken the match ball home from the Jamsil two weeks ago, but his horrible miss just before full time will probably be remembered more than his first half treble. I don't ever recall seeing a hattrick hero looking so deflated at the final whistle.

It would be harsh to blame the Hungarian for Busan's dropped points, however, especially as the striker has proved such a key figure for the seasiders in recent weeks. He has twelve goals from 18 appearances so far in his debut K-League season, and an outstanding goals per minute ratio (one every 80 minutes). A big, physical striker, he doesn't contribute to Busan's play as much as Lee Jeong-hyeop, but he has the poacher's instinct of being in the right place at the right time, and scores most of his goals from inside and around the six-yard box.

After such a crucial miss at the death of Busan's draw last time out, Novothny's finishing may come under scrutiny for the first time in his K-League career. How he recovers could be key to the final third of Busan's season, and a goal against Jeonnam this weekend would certainly put a lot of ghosts to rest.


Both teams have had their inconsistencies in recent weeks and error-prone defences are a common weakness, but the two previous meetings this season were tight, one-goal affairs. Busan could be without a number of key players, and although the free-scoring seasiders should get on the scoresheet, Jeonnam will feel confident of exposing the flaws in the visitors' weakened defence.

Predicted score:
Jeonnam Dragons 2-1 Busan IPark

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