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Preview: Pohang Steelers vs Daegu FC

With only two points separating  fourth placed Daegu FC and six placed Pohang Steelers, the Sky Blues will make the short trip to the east to North Gyeongsang Province to square off against the Steelers. The hosts are looking to register their first win over the citizen club this season, while the visitors are hoping to bounce back with a win to boost their ACL hopes. K League United's Daegu FC Correspondent Muyeol Jung previews this clash.

Last Time Out

Daegu FC 1-2 Ulsan Hyundai

Having three draws from this season's meetings, Daegu FC and Ulsan Hyundai went to head to head at DGB Daegu Bank Park last Sunday and two critical errors in defence costed the hosts three vital points.

With less than five minutes from the kick off, a critical error from towering centreback Jeong Taewook caused a big crisis to the Sky blues. Former Daegu Striker Junior was fouled inside the box after the attacker took the ball away from the defender and Ulsan had a early chance to go ahead. However, Daegu's guardian Jo Hyeonwoo rescued Daegu by saving Junior's spot kick. After that, a similar situation occurred. This time the defender easily gave the ball away to U.S. international Mix Diskerud who made this count by comfortably putting the ball into the net. Afterwards, Daegu had a couple of chances to equalise through short passing play near the penalty arc, but Korea international goalkeeper Kim Seungkyu held the home side scoreless until the break including one shot that hit the foot of the post.

With Hwang Soonmin in for error prone defender Jeong Taewook, the second half started off with Daegu's dominance. Only three minutes after the restart, Daegu's biggest star Cesinha struck a missile following some quick movement. Daegu continued to push for the winner, but Ulsan effectively handled the hosts' pressure it until 80 minutes when the Horangi manager Kim Dohoon's magic panned out. Only one minute after coming on, substitute Joo Minkyu tapped a low cross in with his first touch to put the visitors 2-1 up.


Jeonbuk Hyundai 3-0 Pohang Steelers

Title contenders Jeonbuk hosted Pohang Steelers at Jeonju Castle where Kim Gidong's Pohang side lost 3-0. From the beginning, the hosts clearly showed their strong desire to kill the game off. Within the first ten minutes, Moon Seonmin was the brightest, creating three goal scoring opportunities, but were saved by Pohang goalkeeper Kang Hyeonmu. On 12 mins, this time the Korean unselfishly found Lopes rushing towards goal who then swept it into the net with ease. Afterwards, for the remainder of the first half, the visitors looked unable to respond at all, letting the host take the control of the game.

In the second half, the Steelers slightly looked better, but it was the hosts that scored. An Outstanding Moon Seonmin showed off his individual skills on the left side and acrobatically turned it into the net along the ground. Despite the 2-0 lead to Jeonbuk, the Motors didn't stop attacking at all. They kept on pushing for another goal and finally Jeonbuk youth product Kwon Kyeongwon scored the third of the evening from the set play on 67 mins. For the remainder of the game, the Steelers tried to find a consolation, but it finished 3-0 to Jeonbuk in the end.


Previous Meetings

Head to head, Pohang Steelers are ahead of Daegu FC with 19 wins compared to 11 wins to the metropolitan from 41 meetings.

However, since the citizen club's comeback to K League 1, the recent ten meetings see much restored results to Daegu with five wins and one draw. Particularly, this season, the citizen club have been unbeaten against the east coast city with two wins and a draw. Interestingly, during this period, Pohang haven't found a way past through Jo Hyeonwoo. But back in 2018 season, the Steelers took nine points from three meetings.

Team News

Daegu's unbeaten run, which lasted for nearly two months with four wins and five draws from nine games, was halted last time out.

Reflecting on that evening's game, apart from the result against Ulsan, the way Andre's lads played on that day particularly clearly showed the lack of experience and poor game management on the pitch. When the lads were supposed to stay cool and focused on their job, they looked out of control and irritated by Ulsan's strong, tough man-marking. Coming into the next game, they should be mentally stronger and determined.

Despite the defeat, the Sky Blue's hope for ACL spot isn't far away if they can add three points to their tally this weekend. Provided that the current third place Seoul are set to play against title contenders Jeonbuk on the road, it will be a good chance to narrow the gap between Daegu and Seoul for that last ACL spot.

Daegu FC manager André Gaspar has to think over how to set up his side without Cesinha against Pohang
Ahead of the trip to Pohang, unluckily, Daegu FC have to fight without their strongest asset Cesinha who has to serve one game suspension. On the bright side, Daegu FC already proved that they are working as unit rather than heavily relying on their foreign imports. Instead of Cesinha, either Daegu youth product Shin Changmoo or diligent midfielder Hwang Soonmin will be named in starting XI. Nevertheless, Cesinha's absence will be felt as he has been massively influential for the Andre's side with 13 goals 9 assists from 32 league appearances. Also, Cesinha's fellow countryman Rildo is likely to be out due to injury. Other than that, Daegu's line up will be similar in their usual 3-4-1-2 formation with full strength available.

The Adversary

Despite a 3-0 defeat to Jeonbuk on the road, the situation doesn't look as grim as it seems considering it was away fixture against one of the the strongest sides in the league. Furthermore, Pohang are still only two points adrift of fourth placed Daegu FC, boosted by their six games unbeaten run before the defeat last time.

In a post match interview after the loss, Pohang manager Kim Gidong spoke to the press and said that they couldn't deal with Jeonbuk's high pressure and had a lot of difficulty in moving the ball forward. However, he valued the better performance towards the end of the second half after two young players Lee Kwanghyuk and Song Minkyu came on as substitute for their foreign imports Wanderson and Paločević.

Loanee Choi Youngjoon has become a household name for the Steelers since this summer
For this Saturday fixture against Daegu, manager Kim Gidong will have two more players available from the side that lost to Jeonbuk without any suspension in the squad. Loaned midfielder Choi Youngjoon and the club's living legend Kim Kwangseok will likely return to the starting list; Choi had to be excluded in the trip to Jeonbuk as the Steelers were facing off his parent team, while Kim had to serve one game ban.

Who To Watch

With Cesinha suspended due to a third yellow card, Daegu FC youth product Shin Changmoo is likely to step up and replace the Brazilian. The Korean, who joined Daegu FC in the 2014 season, returned to the team after the military duty in Sangju sangmu and became a regular substitute for Andre's side.

The winger, nicknamed The Son of Daegu, is not a game-changer like Cesinha, but what he could deliver to the side is dynamics and pace in transition. Since his return, he made five appearances for the Sky Blues including one start, and bagged the winner against Seongnam away from home. His strengths include his shooting accuracy, speed, a strong mentality and commitment.


Every match in FINAL A is vital. The two sides are both looking to bounce back with a win to go higher in the table, but Daegu's chances look still bigger considering the ambitions the citizen club are attempting to achieve. However, objectively the absence of Cesinha is critically a big loss to their strength, while having two important players back in the squad is obviously the positive for the Steelers. As a results, I think the match will finish in a draw.

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