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Preview: Gwangju FC vs Jeonnam Dragons



With promotion confirmed, Park Jin-seop's Gwangju can afford to relax for the visit of a Jeonnam Dragons side who also have nothing but pride to play for. KLeague 2's last Jeolla derby for the foreseeable future also presents a potential farewell party for their World Cup stadium.

Last Time Out

Suwon 0-3 Gwangju

Claiming their fifth consecutive win Gwangju eased to a 3-0 victory thanks in large part to Kim Jeong-hwan's brace, while youngster Eom Won-sang finally added to his promise in a yellow shirt with his second of the season. Club legend Yeo Reum was brought into the starting line-up for the first time since August 10 with doubts over hanging overhead whether he'll form part of the squad Park Jin-seop will assemble this winter. The 30-year-old has been ousted by new arrival Ratinho of late in central midfield, yet comfortably slotted back in for 90 minutes last Sunday. A potential worry for Gwangju fans, Felipe was forced off early through injury yet his replacement Kim Jeong-hwan grasped the opportunity with both hands tapping home Park Sun-ju's cross in first half stoppage time. Eom's goal came just moments after the break thanks to some direct wing play down the right before Kim added the third on the break from fellow substitutes Lee Hee-gyun's cross.

Busan IPark 0-0 Jeonnam Dragons

Busan boss Cho Duk-jae brought in Diego Mauricio for Soma Novothny with the former operating on the opposite wing to in-form Lee Dong-jun. Lee Jeong-hyeop also returned while the influential Park Jong-woo missed out through suspension. Knowing that second place is confirmed, the hosts put in a tepid performance as they prepare for play-off games against the winner of 3rd vs 4th and possibly the 11th-placed KLeague 1 side. After 10 minutes Bruno Nunes saw two quick-fire shots blocked for Jeonnam with journeyman keeper Park Jun-hyuk pulling out a fine stop from IPark winger Lee Dong-jun 10 minutes later. Diego showed some promise hitting the post before the interval but ultimately his side were too wasteful. Jeon Kyeong-jun's Dragons improved in the second half with Lee You-hyeon causing problems down the right as the game petered out.


Previous Meetings

The pair last met amid Gwangju's infamous mid-season blip that saw them pick up just seven points from seven games. Jeong Jae-hee cancelled out Lee Han-do's effort on the stroke of half time. Prior to that Gwangju have boasted the derby bragging rights this season with Jung Yeong-chong's only goal this season coming against the dragons in a 2-0 victory in May. March saw a memorable week with the Yellows traveling south twice inside a week and coming away with the spoils in both the league and FA Cup. Prior to this season the pairs last meeting was notable for Wanderson, who subsequently moved to Jeonnam, scoring a hat-trick to add to Na Sang-ho's opener in a 4-2 win.

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The Adversary

After the three straight wins that gave Jeonnam fans an unlikely sniff of the play-offs, the Dragons needed to beat Busan to keep faint hopes alive. Affording their hosts plenty of chances in the first half, Australian centre-back Nick Ansell contributed to a more assured second half display. Whether Felipe recovers in time or not for Gwangju, the Jeonnam back line will have to deal with a plethora of attacking talent out wide. Unfortunately for Jeon Kyeong-jun, he will be unable to select regular defender Lee Seul-chan on Sunday while Choi Joon-gi will miss the rest of the season through suspension.

With nothing to play for but pride, this fixture and next week's hosting of Ansan Greeners would be a prime time to test out those on the periphery of the first team before deciding who is worth persisting with. After hopes of a promotion push in pre-season, this has ultimately been a disappointing campaign in Gwangyang and the driving factor behind that has been a lack of firepower. The aforementioned Wanderson has only mustered two appearances this term while no other player in the squad has managed a total of over seven goals in his absence.


What To Watch


If Gwangju are to match Gyeongnam's record 2017 total of 79 points they could do with injury doubt Felipe delivering as he has done so all season. 19 goals including just a solitary penalty is good going for a striker at any level and the Brazilian will surely have his suitors in the transfer window. The number nine will be well aware that Suwon's Chisom Egbuchunam is lingering just one goal behind him in the goal scoring charts and will have that in his mind in his bid to be passed fit.

One thing Gwangju have done well under the radar this season is cope with an astonishing number of forced changes at the back. Returning from military service from Asan Mugunghwa, keeper Choi Bong-jin was handed his first start of the season against Suwon, yet picked up a booking and must sit out this weekend. Jeong Jun-yeon was also booked for consecutive games and is unavailable to face his former team. Ahead of yet another reshuffle to the back five, Gwangju are the only second division side to field three goalkeepers in 2019. However, it's commendable how easily an array of centre back partnerships have gelled so seamlessly.

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Prediction

The Yellows showed in last week's comfortable win over Suwon that they are not intent on letting up as the season draws to a close. The squad know that changes will be enforced to bridge that gap in quality between the top and second division over the winter and that should spur them on to put on a show once more.

Gwangju 3-0 Jeonnam Dragons

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