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Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Jeju United

Jeju United face the possibility of confirming relegation for next season when they travel away to Gyeongnam FC this weekend.  Their last time out did not produce a win against Sangju, leaving them five points behind both their opponents this weekend and Incheon United.  Gyeongnam lost to Suwon Bluewings while Incheon managed a win against Seongnam.  It's do-or-die for the islanders, but they don't seem to be instilled with the confidence needed for three points.  Can they sneak a win to keep their chances alive?  KLU's Branko Belan looks ahead to the fixture.

Match: Gyeongnam FC vs Jeju United
Venue: Changwon Football Center
Kickoff: Saturday October 27th, 2019; 15:00 KST

Last Time Out

Suwon Bluewings 2-1 Gyeongnam FC

Despite taking a first half lead, Gyeongnam were turned around by Suwon Bluewings, who overcame the deficit and recorded a victory at home.  Uroš Đerić converted a penalty in the 26th minute to open the scoring after Goo Dae-young was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area, and the Serbian striker managed to put his penalty past No Dong-geun, who guessed to the right side, but was not able to keep the shot out.

Suwon would get a penalty of their own just before the end of the first half, as the Gyeongnam goal scorer was charged with elbowing Ko Seung-beom in the box following a VAR review, and golden boot front-runner Adam Taggart leveled proceedings going to the break.

The visitors could have retaken the lead if not for a stellar top hand save from the Suwon 'keeper in the 67th minute from Kim Jun-beom's shot and it would play a huge role in the final result, as Yeom Ki-hun put the hosts in front shortly thereafter with what turned out to be the winner as he was able to capitalize on a failed clearance from a cross sent in from the right.  The scoreline did not change until the final whistle, and Gyeongnam missed out on a chance to create some distance between themselves and their rivals with the loss.

Highlights: here

Sangju Sangmu 2-1 Jeju United

Jeju United failed to come away with points in their first match in Final Round B as they fell to Sangju Sangmu for the fifth time this season.  The first half went back and forth for the first half hour as the teams traded chances and it was Jeju who would lead on 29 minutes when Lee Keun-ho released Ahn Hyun-beom into space one on one with Yoon Bo-sang, and the Jeju midfielder coolly slotted the ball into the net.

The lead was short-lived however, as Park Yong-ji equalized only two minutes later after a defensive error in the box gave him enough space to shoot high into the corner, leaving Oh Seung-hoon rooted to his place on the goal-line.  

The islanders were under siege for much of the second half, even though they did manage the best chance of the second half at the hour mark when Kim Dong-woo's header struck the bar from a corner.  Jeju continued to soak up pressure at the back and it finally cost them six minutes from time, when Kim Gun-hee turned in Lee Min-gi's cross from the right with a pinpoint header.  Aleksandar Jovanovic had a late chance to score for Jeju with a header of his own, but Yoon was easily able to make the save to preserve a win for the military men.

Highlights: here 

Previous Meetings

Gyeongnam and Jeju have played each other relatively close all season, with both sides winning once and one match ending in a draw.  The last time they played was on the final day of the regular season on the island, and Gyeongnam came away winners by a 2-1 margin.  Jo Jae-cheol and Woo Joo-sung scored the goals for the Reds, while Nam Jun-jae got a late consolation goal for the islanders.

Choi Yun-kyum debuted on the islanders' bench in May when the teams met the first time this season, a 2-0 islanders' victory.  The only other meeting ended in a 2-2 draw when they played in the summer in a match that was played in typhoon-like conditions.

Team News

Jeju have no choice but to win on Saturday afternoon.  Anything else than three points could signal the end of their season and confirm their drop down to K League 2 for next season.  In what was already considered a must-win match last week, Choi Yun-kyum sent his men out in a 4-5-1 formation, which is distressing considering that the club has already had enough problems scoring goals this season.

Ahn Hyun-beom vs Sangju 10.19.2019
Ahn Hyun-beom scored Jeju's only goal against Sangju.

Jeju suffered the same fate against Sangju as they have all season, conceding shortly after taking the lead, and then conceding late to drop extremely valuable points.  Despite the wealth of talent on this team, results have not followed.  The problems can be traced back to the beginning of the season when they opened winless in their first nine matches prompting Cho Sung-hwan to step down as manager.

His mere presence with the club from the beginning of the season served to exacerbate a lot of the problems the club had going back to last season, and Jeju have never been able to recover.  There is a very good feeling that many players are going to be off-loaded once the season is over, with Yun Il-lok returning to Yokohama F Marinos in the J League following the end of his loan spell, while Lee Keun-ho will also return to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.  This team will undergo a complete overhaul and there will be suitors for the services of the many players who will likely be made available.

Baek Dong-gyu, Yun Il-lok and Kim Ji-un all picked up yellow cards for Jeju last time out, but there are no suspensions in the side.  It is quite unpredictable to know what sort of formation Choi will opt for in this must-win match, much less the players who will be selected for the starting eleven, but it would be no surprise if he chooses to go defensive in an attempt not to concede goals, a strategy which has backfired on Jeju all too often this season.

For Gyeongnam, Lee Kwang-seon will make his 100th K League appearance against his old club.  The former Jeju man is now the captain of his new side and has been a presence in the center of their three man defensive line.  He will be key to thwarting any scoring opportunities Jeju may create, and could be a threat from set pieces when Gyeongnam find themselves in threatening positions on the offensive end.

Uroš Đerić scored the only goal for Gyeongnam against Suwon last weekend and will certainly be a threat to do so again against a team he has terrorized since coming into the league last season.  Since joining Gyeongnam in late July, he has scored seven goals for the club, including against Jeju in his debut, a 2-2 draw.  He also netted a pair of braces against Suwon Bluewings and Ulsan Hyundai in August and September, respectively, and if on form, should be a good bet to add to his tally against a very weak Jeju defense.

Lee Bum-soo will likely get the start this weekend after being left on the bench last round, while Kunimoto and Bae Ki-jong will maintain their spots on the flanks in attack.  Kim Jong-boo will likely not make many changes to the side which faced Suwon in an attempt to maintain continuity in the side to try and get a maximum result and solidify their first division status for next year.

The Adversary

Uros Deric vs Suwon Bluewings 10.19.2019
Uroš Đerić converted from the spot for his seventh goal since joining Gyeongnam in July.

Gyeongnam finished the regular season with one win, three draws and one loss in their final five matches of the regular season, winning against Jeju, while drawing against Ulsan Hyundai, FC Seoul and Jeonbuk Hyundai and finally losing to Pohang Steelers.

Despite the loss to Suwon last week, they are still in decent form and should be considered the favorite for this weekend's match.  The match against Jeju will be the first of their three home matches in Final Round B, as they also await Sangju Sangmu on November 2nd, and Incheon United on the final day of the season on November 30th.

Bae Ki-jong is counting on heavy support from the Reds' fans.

"We expect that fans will come to the stadium in big numbers to support us, and we will put everything into our final three home games.  There is nothing which means more to us than our fans' support," he said.


Jeju have only won once off the island this season, and to say it would be a tall order for them to get a second from this match is an understatement.  Unless Jeju put together the "performance of a lifetime," it would be almost impossible to see them getting anything from this match.  The writing has been on the wall for quite some time now, and had they not started strongly in 2018, they likely would have been relegated at the end of last season - this year has only prolonged the agony which has transpired at the club over the past sixteen months.

Gyeongnam are the better side on form and have more dangerous pieces up front, and they will find a way to use them to their advantage to get the result they need to stay up for next season.  Their front three should cause problems for Jeju's defense all afternoon and it will lead to them taking all three points from the match.

Predicted Score: Gyeongnam FC 2-1 Jeju United

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