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Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Daejeon Hana Citizen

Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Daejeon Hana Citizen
There's an intriguing clash is in store at the Changwon Football Center this Saturday evening, as Gyeongnam FC host table-toppers Daejeon Hana Citizen.  The Reds' will be happy for home comforts after playing their last three games all away from home and they struggled last time out.  The Purples come south hoping to extend their lead at the top of the table.  Gyeongnam columnist James Edrupt previews the encounter.

Match- Gyeongnam FC vs Daejeon Hana Citizen
Venue- Changwon Football Center.  Changwon.
Kick off- Saturday, May 30th, 2020.  18:30 (KST)

Last Time Out

Suwon FC 3-1 Gyeongnam FC

The Gyeonggi-do based side took advantage of some calamitous goalkeeping and lackadaisical defending by Gyeongnam to take home the spoils on a muggy late May evening.  Seol Ki-hyeon in the away teams dugout rang the changes and freshened up the starting eleven by changing seven that started against FC Anyang last time out.  The opening to the game was mainly dominated by the away side who looked very confident on the ball pinning Suwon in their half but not creating too much in terms of scoring opportunities.  The clearest of the chances did fall to right wing-back Ahn Sung-nam whose left-foot snapshot from 10 yards flew past the post.  He should have done better and put the away side one up.  Suwon FC grew into the game and was to take the lead through Japanese striker Masatoshi Ishida who had the simple task of putting the ball into an empty net after a terrible touch by Son Jung-hyun was intercepted by North Korean forward An Byong-jun.  

Suwon came out of the blocks after the interval very well and were to extend their lead on 51 minutes from the aforementioned An Byong-jun from the spot.  But like the first goal, it was the cause of the penalty that will have gaffer Seol Ki-hyeon pulling his hair out.  After the initial shot was parried out, Son Jung-hyun lunged in with his arms clipping the advancing Han Jeong-uh as he was going away from goal.  Gyeongnam was shocked and pushed for a goal in the game then came a great opportunity for that when they were awarded a spot-kick themselves when Ahn Sung-nam when about to pull the trigger was brought down.  Former Suwon FC midfielder Baek Sung-dong stepped up but his effort was saved down to his left by Yoo Hyun in the home side's goal.  It was to go from bad to worse for the Gyeongsangnam-do outfit on 62 minutes when yet another defensive mix up let Ishida nip in and round the keeper to complete his brace.  He won't have scored two easier goals in one game in his career.  Substitute Hwang Il-soo did provide a bright spark for The Reds' and reduced the arrears on 74 minutes rounding the keeper and slotting into an empty net.  Suwon FC held on and claimed their third win on the bounce while condemning the visitors to their first loss of the campaign.

Daejeon Hana Citizen 1-0 Ansan Greeners

Daejeon leap-frogged Bucheon 1995 into first place in K League 2 with a narrow victory over a dogged Ansan Greeners outfit.  Brazilian Andre Luis was the match-winner as early as the seventh minute, with his fifth goal in four matches.  He had the simple task of turning the ball home from six yards after a Yoon Seung-won shot was parried up onto the crossbar by Greener's goalkeeper Lee Hee-seong.  Luis had that striker instinct and followed up the initial effort from Yoon.  To the Green Wolves credit, they never gave up given the gulf in class between the two squads and had Daejeon pinned back in their half for the majority of the first half without creating too much despite dominating possession.

After 64 minutes Ansan were to create their first real opening and it came to Lebanese striker Soony Saad who, on the turn, took an excellent first touch on the edge of the box, flashed the ball just wide of the left-hand post passed the outstretched arms of Kim Dong-jun.  VAR was to make it's mark again on the 80th-minute mark when Greener's substitute Min Jun-yeong was bundled over in the box by a lunging Lee Seul-chan, as a result, a spot-kick was awarded.  It was deemed after a second look by referee Choi Kwang-ho than Min had instigated contact and was on his way down before contact was made.   He reversed his decision and a free-kick was awarded for simulation.  A lucky escape for Daejeon and it proved crucial as they managed to hold out quite comfortably to bag all the points.  It must be noted it was The Purples goalkeeper Kim Dong-jun's 100th K League appearance.

Previous Meetings

This fixture is always a closely contested one.  They have faced each other thirty times over the years with Gyeongnam edging the victories with twelve, Daejeon winning seven times and eleven finishing in a draw.  The last time the two sides met in September 2017, Vancouver Whitecaps and Korean national team midfielder Hwang In-beom was on the scoresheet in a 2-1 win for Daejeon at the Daejeon World Cup stadium.  There have been some thrashings handed out by Gyeongnam over the years, most notably in 2011 when The Reds won 7-1, and then again in 2013 putting six past the Purples in a 6-0 drubbing at the Changwon Football Center.

Team News

The home side will want to forget about Wednesday night's defeat to Suwon FC and move on to Saturday as quickly as possible.  The defense has been a concern for manager Seol Ki-hyeon and he may have to shuffle things up in the back-line.  Australian defender Nick Ansell is fit and can slot in next to captain Lee Kwang-seon.  Seol picked three players under the age of 21 last time out so he may want to revert to a slightly more experienced line-up in this huge clash.  He can call upon the services of offseason signing and key player Jang Hyuk-jin to play in the center of the park after he served his one game suspension.

Uros Deric was an unused substitute midweek and he'll surely get the nod over the ineffective Park Gi-dong who got a rare start last time out.  Hwang Il-soo who came off the bench against Suwon provides great pace and experience and will back in the starting line-up.  There has been no word in the camp about captain Ha Sung-min and Park Chang-jun about their respective injuries.  

The Adversary

Off season signing Jo Jae-Cheol #14, will line up against his former club on Saturday evening

Daejeon come into the clash in fine form, unbeaten so far in four matches.  They will still, however, be without talisman midfielder Connor Chapman and striker Bruno Baio who are both carrying knocks and won't be available for selection.  Furthermore, the winter recruit from FC Anyang, Koo Bon-sang who has yet to play this campaign, is nearing full fitness but this Saturday may come to soon for the combative midfielder.  The Purples have a wide array of talent to call upon in particular the leagues leading goal-scorer in Andre Luis.  He has bagged himself five goals in The Purples first four matches and is at the forefront of everything Daejeon do in the attacking third.  He has the ability to drift into pockets and his directness of play at the this level frightens defenders.  They also have former Incheon United striker Park Yong-ji in their ranks who, on his day, is a class act.  He certainly knows where the net is, scoring twelve times last season for Sangju Sangmu.  Off-season signing from Gyeongnam, experienced midfielder Jo Jae-Cheol will be keen to put on a performance for his new employers against his old club.

The Purples boast one of the strongest squads in the league and new owners who invested significantly in the offseason.  With the emergence of promising 20-year-old Korea U20 international Lee Ji-sol playing in a style well beyond his years, Daejeon have a good blend of experience and youth in their ranks.  Gyeongnam and Daejeon without a doubt went into the season as the two teams to be up and around the top half of the table pushing for automatic promotion.  As we enter the fifth round of fixtures this prediction is still ringing true.

Who To Watch

Andres Luis has taken to Korean football like a duck to water and is currently leading the goal scoring charts and attracting plaudits from all media sources.  He will be a marked man on Saturday by the home side.  The player most probably tasked with the job of trying to keep him quiet could be The Reds' new signing Yang Hyuk-jin.  Yang was suspended for Gyeongnam's clash with Suwon FC midweek, so he'll be well-rested and itching to get back into the starting line-up.  It'll be intriguing to watch how Luis will overcome this challenge.  He has shown so far that he has a knack of being in the right place at the right time in and around the box.  The sign of a very good player.  The home side has chopped and changed defensively all season with manager Seol Ki-hyeon unsure of his best center-back pairing.   If Andres can smell weakness in the Gyeongnam back-line he could be in for a few more goals to add to his impressive tally thus far.



If recent history is to go by, Gyeongnam should be favourites to win this.  On paper, both sides have very talented squads with K League 1 standard players dotted all throughout.   Daejeon travel south having had an extra days rest than The Reds' and this may prove crucial in the latter stages.  It's an obvious one, but if the home side can stifle Andre and be clinical in the attacking third it could make for a good battle all over the park.

Gyeongnam FC 2-2 Daejeon Hana Citizen

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