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Preview: Seongnam FC vs Jeju United

Jeju v Seongnam 06.21.19

It had been inevitable for quite some time, but with their convincing loss to Suwon Bluewings last weekend, it is now official.  Jeju United have been relegated for the first time in club history and will play in K League 2 next season.  Seongnam, meanwhile, have been safe for quite some time.  As has been the case in the recent past, the head to head between the two has been split down the middle in league play this season with each side winning once and the remaining fixture ending in a draw.  With neither side having anything to play for, it could end up being a low scoring affair.  KLU's Branko Belan looks ahead to the final match of the season for both teams.

Match: Seongnam FC vs Jeju United
Venue: Tancheon Sports Complex
Kickoff: Saturday November 30th, 2019; 15:00 KST

Last Time Out

Seongnam FC 1-2 Gyeongnam FC

Seongnam fell behind early in the match but managed to find the net before halftime to restore parity, only for the visitors to find a second half winner and seal three very important points as they now know the worst they can do is contend for the Promotion?Relegation Final against the K League 2 playoff winner, one of Busan IPark or FC Anyang.

Kim Hyo-gi got Gyeongnam off and running after only five minutes, but Seo Bo-min leveled the match with just five minutes to go in the first stanza.  While Seongnam enjoyed a majority of the possession throughout the match, they were not able to convert their time on the ball into a go-ahead goal, and it was Gyeongnam who went in front a second time through an Uroš Đerić penalty on 74 minutes.  Seongnam were not able to pull a goal back before the final whistle, and missed out on taking a share of the spoils.

Highlights: here

Jeju United 2-4 Suwon Bluewings

Things started well enough for the islanders on Sunday, as they took the lead within the first ten minutes of the match, and kept the advantage at the break, but a total second half collapse within a span of ten minutes was enough to unravel the team and erase any chance of staying up for next season.

Yun Il-lok got the islanders out to an early lead, but it was quickly canceled out by an Adam Taggart penalty, giving him sole possession of the scoring lead going into the final week of the season.  Ahn Hyun-beom would put Jeju back in front just after the half hour mark, and the lead would hold until the break, but there was one last cruel twist in the script once the second half got underway.

Suwon would kick things into a higher gear with about twenty minutes to go, as Han Seok-hee found the net twice within ten minutes, and Taggart added his second of the match on 76 minutes, and there was simply no way back for Choi Yun-kyum's men, as they will now face off against the likes of Asan, Bucheon, Ansan and the rest next season, while Suwon will look forward to a return to the ACL after winning the FA Cup for the fifth time in team history.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

As already mentioned, each side has one once in this fixture this season with one match ending in a draw.  The last time the sides met, it finished 3-0 to Jeju thanks to an own goal just minutes before the half from Kim Dong-jun, while Magno Cruz converted a penalty with twenty minutes left, and Lee Keun-ho added a third thirteen minutes later to round out the result.

Overall, Jeju has a slight edge in the rivalry, winning eight times to Seongnam's six, with eleven matches finishing without a winner.  With both teams headed in different directions, it's hard to predict how the match is going to go on Saturday afternoon, but Jeju will likely have very little left in the tank after such a deflating second half against Suwon.  It would not be a surprise to see a complete second rotation lineup to finish out the string in 2019.

Team News

The club released an official statement earlier in the week confirming Jeju United's K League 2 status for next season, with an apology to the fans for the overall poor performances this season.  The team will now likely be in overhaul mode, with several players expected to leave the club over the winter.

Relegation against Suwon 11.24.19
The loss to Suwon Bluewings capped off the worst season in club history.

Another certainty is the departure of Choi Yun-kyum, who failed to turn United's season around and can be seen as one of the main culprits for the team's relegation.  How a team which played in the ACL in back to back seasons became a single digit win team in 2019 is an absolute mystery considering the amount of talent that was brought in to shore up the club following last season's disappointment.

Things got off on the wrong foot as Cho Sung-hwan was kept on following the top six finish last season, and the team was never able to recover after opening the season winless in their first nine.

Elias Aguilar end of match  vs Suwon 11.24.19
Elias Aguilar was one of the better performers for Jeju this season.

Nothing has been made official as of yet, but much more should be known in the coming weeks.  What is certain is that Lee Keun-ho and Yun Il-lok will be leaving after the conclusion of their loan spells; it remains to be see who else will be following them out the door.  The fact is that Jeju have lacked a charismatic leader over the past few seasons, and it had a direct impact on results.  Other factors also came into play, but if the club is going to turn things around, it is possible that a complete restructuring will have to be undertaken.  

Lee Chang-min picked up a red card late in injury time against Suwon and will not play in the final match of the season, as will also be the case with Yun Il-lok, who also went into the book on Sunday and will be out due to card accumulation.

For Seongnam, Lee Eun-beom picked up two yellows against Gyeongnam and will miss the opportunity to play against his former club.  Kim Gi-yeol also went into the book for the Magpies last weekend, but should be available for selection.

The Adversary

Seongnam v Gyeongnam 11.24.19
Seongnam will look to finish 2019 on a winning note against Jeju on Saturday afternoon.

Seongnam have had mixed results in Final Round B, with a pair of losses, the other one being to Incheon on October 19th, but did manage to pick up a win against Sangju Sangmu and a draw against Suwon Bluewings, after finishing the regular season with back to back losses against Ulsan away and Daegu at home.

With the bottom three in the league not faring so well this year, it was never in doubt that the side promoted from K League 2 last year despite being runners-up thanks to the fiasco involving league champions Asan Mugunghwa would stay in the top flight.

However, they will have some personnel issues to deal with in the off-season, as they only managed twenty-seven goals this season as a team, conceding thirty-nine, which in hindsight shows they in fact had a very good defensive record in 2019, but once again, finding the back of the net was a major concern for them.  If they indeed want to challenge for the upper half of the table next year, they need to be more clinical in front of goal.  They did have a few good pieces this season, with the likes of Eder and Mathias Coureur in their ranks, as well as Seo, but it never really seemed to come together for them.

In fact, it was made public this week by the Frenchman himself that he will be leaving the team, citing a difficult season in which he was unable to play the sort of football he wanted, and will be moving on.

Nonetheless, they will have first division football to look foward to in 2020, but they will have a bit of re-tooling to do to get themselves ready for the new campaign.


Neither side has anything to play for at this point.  Seongnam are at home and should be considered the favorites while Jeju have a lot of soul searching to do after the worst campaign in team history.  It would be no surprise to see them go through the motions on Saturday afternoon, just to get the final ninety minutes out of the way and hopefully be able to look ahead to better times ahead.

Realistically, neither side impressed this season, but Jeju are absolutely deflated and can't really hope for a result, unless the outgoing players, of which there should be more than a few, will want to put one one last decent performance at least for each other.

Predicted Score: Seongnam FC 1-0 Jeju United

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