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Preview: Gangwon FC vs Daegu FC

After long break, K League FINAL A will get back to action for the last two rounds of the 2019 K League 1 season. This Saturday, Gangwon FC are set to host Daegu FC, fighting tooth and nail over fourth place in the table and possible ACL qualification. K League United's Daegu FC columnist Muyeol Jung previews what can be expected from the clash.

Last Time Out

Daegu FC 0-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

It was the eighth full house Daegu FC have had this season, but the Sky Blues had to send the home fans back home disappointed despite their hard work against six times K League Champions Jeonbuk Hyundai.

Within five minutes from the kick off, Daegu youngster Kim Daewon fired a warning shot from distance, but it was the visitors who opened the scoring from their first chance. On the counterattack, Moon Seonmin was a big dangerous to Daegu's high back line. The ball from him was passed through Lopes and Son Joonho to 'Lion King' Lee Donggook on the run, who put Jeonbuk ahead. Afterwards, the hosts continuously tried to get themselves organised and went for a goal, but couldn't find a way past Jeonbuk's young stopper Song Beomkeun who made some critical saves but will also have been relieved to see one shot bounce back off the post.

The visitors quickly doubled their lead only two minutes into the second half through some great team work which ripped apart Daegu's defence and resulted in Lopes, who encountered Daegu's goalkeeper and composedly found the back of net. After that, Andre's boys kept on attacking, but their efforts weren't enough to find a consolation and had to kneel down 2-0 to the Motors at home.


Pohang Steelers 2-2 Gangwon FC

Pohang Steelers hosted Gangwon FC at the Steelyard where both sides had to settle for a point after a dramatic 2-2 draw.

Pohang took the control of the game from the beginning and had a critical chance on 11 minutes, but the woodwork denied Wanderson's curling effort. The visitors looked out of sorts, but they were fortunate to go ahead before the break when Bosnian striker Nemanja Bilbija put pressure on Pohang goalkeeper and Lee Hyunsik put it into the back of net after the 'keeper's howler.

The second half started in a similar fashion to the first half, but again Gangwon scored the second of the day after a couple of goal scoring chances created by the hosts. The unmarked Bosnian got himself on the scoresheet through a header from a corner kick. After that, Pohang immediately got one back through substitute Iljutcenko with a header of his own. For last 20 mintues, the game became wide open, during which Gangwon could have killed off the game, but their wastefulness consequently costed them three points when Sim Dongwoon's late equaliser was given to Pohang after a VAR review.


Previous Meetings

This season Daegu FC are unbeaten against Gangwon FC in three meetings with two wins and a 2-2 draw. The three games were very entertaining to watch with lots of dynamic play and quick transitions. Particularly, the latest tie is notable, played at Daegu's turf on 24th August when Andre's lads eased past them 3-1 after the stunning performances on counterattack.

Head to head records see Daegu ahead of Gangwon with 17 wins and ten draws from 37 meetings. Since 2017 July, Daegu FC have gone without defeat against Gangwon for last eight league games.

Team News

For the first three games in FINAL A, Daegu FC have gone without a win with lacklustre performances and their hope for ACL place is now further out of reach. However, they will put their best efforts in as long as there is still a mathematically chance of qualifying.

During the international break, Daegu FC had four players who received a call up for the  Korea National Team; goalkeeper Jo Hyeonwoo for the senior team, Kim Daewon, Jung Seungwon, and Jeong Taewook for U22 youth team. The shot stopper made a start and completed the full 90 minutes in a 3-0 loss to Brazil after the team's World Cup Qualifier action in Beirut, Lebanon where he was on the bench. Meanwhile, the other three youngsters also were involved with the youth team's action in Dubai, in preparation for AFC U23 Championship and the Olympics next year. For the four friendlies, towering centre back Jeong Taewook earned 180 minutes from two games, while Kim Daewon got 120 minutes from three games, and Jung Seungwon had 150 minutes from two games. The four arrived back in Korea on Wednesday afternoon from the UAE and they will be able to play for the club this weekend even though they may be suffering from jetlag and fatigue.

Can Daegu FC's most successful manager bring ACL back to DGB Bank Park for a second year in a row?
Ahead of trip to Chuncheon, Daegu manager Andre seriously needs to contemplate how to set up the team without two key players who are ruled out due to suspension; creative midfielder Kim Sunmin and defender Park Byunghyeon. Their absences will be likely replaced by Ryu Jaemoon and club captain Han Heehoon. In addition, one of Andre's backroom staff, assistant coach Lee Byunggeun has a touchline ban for the remaining two games of the season.

On the bright side, 'Son of Daegu', Shin Changmoo will return to the team from suspension and may well start over a fatigued Kim Daewon, who just came back from the international duties. Also, Daegu's summer signing Rildo, sidelined for a thigh injury, might make appearances as well.

The Adversary

Gangwon FC, led by Kim Byungsoo are sitting in the fifth and are only one point adrift of fourth placed Daegu FC. Their recent form in the league isn't great with some real ups and downs, but they have one win, one draw, and one loss from the first three games in FINAL A. The most inspiring thing is that they kept on scoring goals against the top teams despite they lost their key assets Kim Jihyun and Cho Jaewan due to the injuries; Bosnian striker Bilbija scored two goals and Lee Hyunsik scored three times in FINAL A. If the Bilbija starts, it will be the first game he has ever played against Daegu FC and it will be intriguing to see how much threat he can cause to Daegu's solid defence.

Bosnian striker Bilbija celebrating his goal against Pohang.
During the international break, Gangwon would have enjoyed a quite and relaxing couple of weeks without any players called up for international duty. As a result, they must be very fresh and physically ready for the Daegu game. Also, contrary to Daegu's plights, Gangwon have no players suspended, but wingback Jung Seungyong will be able to make squad after serving one game suspension.

What To Watch

Both Gangwon and Daegu are still mathematically able to claim the third place in the league depending on Seoul's result this weekend, but Daegu's chance is slightly bigger due to a fixture against Seoul in the final day. However, if Seoul beat Pohang this weekend, Daegu's chance also will go down the drain no matter what. Therefore, for Daegu, this is a must win game.

Nevertheless, Daegu's as already mentioned, four players were heavily involved with national team's duties which will have included nine-hour journeys back from the Middle East. Also, the recent two games clearly showed that they have some difficulties in finding the net and their usual Plan A of counterattacking hasn't gone well any more as originally intended.

On the bright side, Daegu FC have found the back of Gangwon's net seven times this season; 2-0 W, 2-2 D, 3-1 W. The reason is believed that Gangwon usually play somewhat of a high line which resulted in Daegu exploiting space in behind. It will be interesting to see how Kim Byungsoo's boys will approach this game, and how Daegu can capitalise on their weakness in reverse.

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