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Preview: Pohang Steelers vs Jeju United

Jeju United face a difficult away test late in the season with the split looming as they travel to the Steelyard to face Pohang on Tuesday night.  Both teams are coming off victories, with the islanders defeating Seongnam for their biggest win of the year thus far while Pohang beat FC Seoul at home.  Both clubs have something to play for, as Jeju is looking to create some distance from the bottom of the table while Pohang is in search of a place in the top half.  KLU's Branko Belan previews the early week Round 31 K League 1 fixture.

Match: Pohang Steelers vs Jeju United
Venue: Pohang Steelyard
Kickoff: Tuesday September 24th, 2019; 19:30 KST

Last Time Out

Pohang Steelers 2-1 FC Seoul

Pohang picked up a valuable three points with a win against FC Seoul at home, leaving them just a point off of the top six.  It looked as though their meeting was going to end in a draw, but the match was turned on its head in the last ten minutes, with all three goals coming in that time span.  Aleksandar Palocevic put the Steelers in front on 81 minutes from the penalty spot, with Park Chu-young leveling the match only three minutes later.  Not to be outdone, Wanderson found a winner two minutes from time, and the club from the capital ended up having to take a hit towards their chase for an ACL spot, knowing that Gangwon, whose match on Sunday against Ulsan was postponed because of typhoon-like conditions are only five points adrift of automatic qualification for Asia's top club competition.

Highlights: here

Jeju United 3-0 Seongnam FC

Jeju United picked up a valuable victory in their quest to stave off relegation, as they put together a strong second half to come away with a 3-0 result against Seongnam.  Jeju were fortunate to go in front just before the break when Kim Sung-ju's corner from the right flag was fumbled into the net by Kim Dong-jun.

The second half saw things open up a bit more and Jeju were awarded a penalty in the 70th minute after Magno was fouled in the box.  He stepped up and converted, sending the Seongnam 'keeper the wrong way to double the advantage, while Lee Keun-ho would add a third on the counter late on, his first goal for the club since arriving on loan from Jeonbuk Hyundai.  It was also a much-needed clean sheet for Oh Seung-hoon, who had struggled between the sticks lately, and it should also be a shot in the arm for the back line, who kept the ball out of their own net for the first time in a month.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

The teams have met twice this season, with both occasions resulting in a 1-1 draw.  The most recent match between the two saw Yun Il-lok put the islanders in front before Stanislav Iljutchenko equalized, with both goals coming in the first half.

In the overall head to head, Pohang has a slight edge, having won thirteen matches to Jeju's twelve, with nine contests ending in a draw, and with both teams having something on the line, it is sure to be another tightly contested affair.

Team News

Jeju welcomed back Yoon Bit-garam and Baek Dong-gyu for the match against Seongnam and both were in the starting eleven, with the former lining up in midfield next to Lee Chang-min and the latter in central defence in a back four.  Jeju have fared better when playing four in the back this season, and Saturday was another example albeit in very tricky conditions.

The biggest concern for Jeju is how to get minutes for everyone through the squad, as there is considerable talent up and down the roster, but Choi Yun-kyum has struggled mightily to find a working formula this season.  Owing to the success at the weekend, he should likely stick to a similar formula, although Seo Jin-su, who played the first hour of the match on Saturday afternoon, likely will not get a start up top.  His minutes have been limited this season, but he has shown promise when given an opportunity.  In all likelihood, Magno Cruz, who replaced Seo in the second half and converted a penalty for Jeju's second goal will start, alongside Lee Keun-ho or Christian Osaguona.

There are no suspensions in the side, but Baek did pick up a yellow card last time out, as did Kim Ji-un, so there is a chance both will be moved to the bench in favor of other options.  Jeong Woo-jae could see a return to the starting eleven after being kept out for the last three matches, while Choi has a few choices with whom to insert in the middle of the back line.

Pohang are enjoying a good run of form lately, coming into the match unbeaten in four.  They will most likely stick with a variation of the same formation as they lined up against FC Seoul at the weekend in a 4-5-1 with Stanislav Iljutchenko leading the line.  They, too have no suspensions ahead of the match, and will most likely not make changes to their last lineup.

The Adversary

Wanderson in action vs FC Seoul 09.21.19
Wanderson has found the net thirteen times this season for Pohang.

Wanderson has been a big reason for Pohang's resurgence of late.  His thirteen goals put him third in the scorer's table at the moment, and he is coming off Player of the Month honors for the month of August.  He has shown himself to be very dangerous down the wing for the Steelers this season, which means that Ahn Hyun-beom, who is likely to start for Jeju at right back, will have his hands full with one of the most in-form players in the league right now.

While a place in Asia for next season is almost entirely out of the question now, a finish in the top half would signal progress for the Steelers, who worked hard to bring in some better talent the likes of Iljutchenko and Aleksandar Palocevic, with the Russian featuring regularly since arriving, while the Serb has started and played a full ninety in each of the last two matches scoring last time out against FC Seoul, his first goal for the club.


The head-to-head statistics are a good indicator of where this match will go.  It will likely be close, and if Jeju can hold their own defensively, they may even be able to snatch a point from this one.  They managed to win at the Steelyard last season, and would like to add to that resume with another three points, but Pohang will prove to be a stiff test for them as hosts, especially knowing that they have their own aspirations to fulfill.  

Both clubs would very much like to build on their results from the last round, but a more realistic result would see the match finish as the other two did, with each taking a share of the spoils.

Predicted Score: Pohang Steelers 1-1 Jeju United

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