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Preview: Jeju United vs Suwon Samsung Bluewings

Jeju United overcame a tricky test against Incheon United at home before the international break to keep themselves in the conversation to stay in the top flight for next season.  Suwon Bluewings, meanwhile, played to a scoreless draw against Seongnam FC at home, but knowing that they have already won this season's edition of the FA Cup, continental football will be on the docket for them once again next year.  The islanders still have a lot of work to do to get out of the league basement; they simply must win their final two matches to stand a chance.  Will Suwon go for all three points, or will they be content with a younger lineup on Sunday afternoon knowing they have accomplished the last thing they set out to do in 2019.  KLU's Branko Belan looks ahead to the match.

Match: Jeju United vs Suwon Samsung Bluewings
Venue: Jeju World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Sunday November 24th, 2019; 16:00 KST

Last Time Out

Jeju United 2-0 Incheon United

Jeju got an absolutely important win at home last time out knowing their backs were against the wall against an Incheon side which had been in much better form in the later stages of the season, including in Final Round B.

It was the home side which came flying out of the gate, as Jeju had a host of early chances to take the lead.  Nam Jun-jae skied a clear chance over the bar just three minutes into the match, while Ahn Hyun-beom, Elias Aguilar, and Lee Chang-min all had efforts off target within the first twenty or so minutes of the first half, and it already seemed like it was set to be a long day on the pitch.

Things did not improve much when Nam went down with an injured hamstring midway through the first half, bringing Magno Cruz into the match, who was immediately put up top with Yun Il-lok pushed back into midfield.  Jeju could not manage to score before the half and there would be all to play for in the second forty-five minutes.

The islanders would keep up the pressure in the early stages of the second half and they were finally able to break through just past the hour mark, when Aguilar's free kick into the area was headed into the path of Magno, who half-volleyed Jeju in front.  The hosts did not concede the rest of the way, and got an insurance goal through Lee Chang-min just over ten minutes from time to secure the team's most important three points of the season.

Lee Chang-keun got a rare start for Jeju in the match, and came up big with a number of key saves to keep his team in the match.  Whether it means he will once again be between the sticks against Suwon remains to be seen, but it was a necessary result to renew their hopes of staying in the top flight for next year at least for the time being.

Highlights: here

Suwon Samsung Bluewings 4-0 Daejeon Korail (FA Cup, 2nd leg)

Despite a less than impressive away leg in the FA Cup final, the Bluewings returned home to the Big Bird and completed a resounding turnaround against this year's upstarts Daejeon Korail, emerging triumphant by a considerable margin at the final whistle.

They were quick out of the gates with Ko Seung-beom finding the net after just a quarter of an hour.  That would be the margin when the teams went in at the break, but Suwon would pour it on after the interval. scoring three in the second half, with Ko completing his brace on 68 minutes.  Kim Min-woo would add a third less than ten minutes later, and Yeom Ki-hun would add a fourth five minutes from time to give them their fifth FA Cup title and an automatic ACL berth for next season.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Suwon have had a distinct advantage in the head to head series this season, winning all three matches and keeping a clean sheet in each of the past two.  In fact, the islanders have only scored once against their weekend opponents in 2019, so for them to get the result they need on Sunday, it will likely take a mountain of work.

Suwon also have an overall advantage as well, having won nineteen matches to Jeju's thirteen, with six matches ending in draws.  The overall aggregate in matches this season stands at plus five for this weekend's visitors, so Jeju's chances of getting a win are slim to none, but if Bluewings opt for a rotated lineup, there might be a chance for an upset - it is the only way the islanders will have a shout going into the final week of the season.

Team News

It was shocking to see Jeju start the last match against Incheon without a striker up top, as Yun Il-lok was counted on to add to his goal total, but things did not get off to a good start.  

Things changed when Magno entered the fray and ended up scoring the goal which would eventually decide the outcome against the Durumi.  With that, the Brazilian played his 100th match in a Jeju shirt.  As a foreign player, the fact he reached the milestone in terms of matches played in the K League is special, but the fact that he has done it all with just one team is even more remarkable.

Magno 100th match for Jeju vs Incheon.
Magno marked his 100th appearance for the islanders with the winner against Incheon.

"I'm glad I was able to score, but I am even more happy that the team was able to get a win as a result of it.  The next match will be more difficult, and I will have to forget about it and focus on helping the team win the remaining two matches," he said following the win at the beginning of November.

"All the players need to maintain the same mentality that they showed against Incheon.  There are a lot of players playing here, and if they show their determination, the next match [against Suwon] can show good results.  There has been enough time to prepare; we can't settle for the result we achieved against Incheon," he concluded.

In other team news, Nam Jun-jae got injured early in the match against Incheon but the hope is that he has had enough time to recover in order to be available for this weekend.  Jeju will need all of their best options open to them if they are to get a full three points.

It will be the final home match for the likes of loanees Yun Il-lok and Lee Keun-ho, who will be set to return to their parent clubs, Yun to Yokohama F. Marinos in the J League and Lee to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.  One player who will not be available is Kim Ji-eun, who is on a suspension once again for accumulation of yellow cards.

Despite winning the FA Cup, there is still something at stake for at least one player in the Suwon side, as Adam Taggart still has his sight set on winning the K League 1 Golden Boot race.  He is currently tied at the top of the charts with Ulsan Hyundai's Junior Negrao with eighteen goals.  He has already scored against Jeju this season in a 2-0 victory when they played in July, but was not in the squad last time the teams met.  He will see the match as an opportunity to add to his goal tally.

Another player whose future is up in the air is Dejan Damjanovic.  He has not played consistently since sustaining a muscle injury in the summer, and has not been selected for the squad since late September when he was a bench substitute in a 1-1 draw against Sangju Sangmu.  Recent reports suggest he will move away from the club at season's end, but his next destination is still unknown.  Could a return to FC Seoul be on the cards?  Choi Yong-soo succeeded in bringing him back to the club once, and may well do it again.

In other news, the club announced the signing of Canadian international defender Doneil Henry from Vancouver Whitecaps FC in MLS.  The timing of the announcement is questionable at best, as the K League season is not yet done, and it remains to be seen how much of a distraction it could be for the club with other potential names set to leave in the off-season, notably Waguininho.
There are no suspensions for the side, but what sort of eleven Lee Lim-saeng will select is still to be determined at the moment.

The Adversary

Suwon 0-0 Seongnam 11.02.2019
Suwon were held scoreless last time out in the league against Seongnam FC.

Suwon's form has been better of late, as they have gone unbeaten in their three matches in Final Round B to go with their cup success, defeating Gyeongnam FC, and earning draws against Seongnam FC and Incheon after finishing the regular portion of the season winless in five, where they managed only two goals over that span while conceding seven.

Along with their match against Jeju, they will also play Sangju away to close out the year, and there will be some questions to be answered in the off-season as it is still up in the air as to whether Lee will return to manage the squad in 2020.  He had originally said he would step down as manager had Suwon failed to win the FA Cup, but with changes in player personnel imminent, there could yet be a change on the sideline as there is a consensus that a more stable presence on the touchline will be needed with continental competition on the horizon once again next year.


Jeju will have to build on what they did against Incheon and get another win at home to keep themselves in the fight going into the final day of the season.  They have all to play for as Suwon are a team they have yet to beat in this calendar year.  The visitors to the island have had a lot of difficulty scoring of late, and the islanders will hope that trend will continue on Sunday afternoon.

There is too much talent in this side for a result to go begging for them this weekend.  It will take some doing, but they have no choice but to finish the match with all three points in their back pocket.

Predicted Score: Jeju United 2-1 Suwon Bluewings

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