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Preview: Seoul E-Land vs Gyeongnam FC


Last week saw the long-awaited return of K League football to South Korea. Under the circumstances, the K League was one of the only leagues in the world to be playing competitive football. With the world watching, Seoul E-Land started their campaign, with a respectable draw against newly relegated side Jeju United. This week, the Leopards have another difficult task, as they welcome another ex-K League 1 side, Gyeongnam FC. In their first game in Jamsil, in over nine months. Can a rejuvenated Seoul come out strong against a Gyeongnam side looking to bounce back from last year's poor season? 

Match: Seoul E-Land vs Gyeongnam FC
Venue: Seoul Olympic Stadium
Kick-off: Sunday, 17th May 2020; 4pm


Last Time Out

Seoul E-Land made the flight over to Jeju, for the curtain-raiser of the K League 2 this past Saturday. As a team that has made big changes over the offseason, many fans and neutrals were intrigued to see how Chung Jung-yong's side would fair. The game started a little bit shaky for Seoul however, all be it, they looked a lot slicker and smoother than last year. There was still something missing in the side, something wasn't clicking. The first talking point in the game came in the 12th minute, when ex-Seoul E-Land striker, Joo Min-kyu was one on one with goalkeeper Kim Hyun-geun. The linesman, however, flagged for offside.

The first breakthrough came in the 35th minute. When Jeju's Ahn Hyun-beom was taken down by Park Seong-woo in the box. It looked as if there was minimal contact between the two players. Referee, Kim Dong-jin went to see the VAR footage, and still awarded the penalty. It was not exactly a stonewall penalty, but Jeju had their chance. Up stepped Joo Min-kyu, who put the islanders ahead.

Won Ki-Jong secured Seoul E-Land with a point in the opening round of the 2020 K League 2 fixture against Jeju United.

Seoul came out a lot better in the second half. A second-half change for Seoul saw fan favourite, Won Ki-jong come on for Richard Sukutu-Pasu and they started to cause Jeju some problems. Kim Dong-gwon was quick to push forward and support the top front three. He is looking like a defender who is more than happy to support a flurry of attacks. Seoul kept pushing, and the chances came thick and fast. The breakthrough for the capital side came in the 67th minute, after a lovely through ball from Kim Min-kyun to Leandro, saw him in view of the goal. His shot was deflected and came off the crossbar, right into the path of Won Ki-jong. The Seoul E-Land player has been on fire for the Leopards in pre-season, and it looks as if it has continued into the league.

Seoul continued to push forward, and try and get a late winner in the game. They thought they may have got that, as in the 87th minute. Won Ki-jong again put the ball into the back of the net. The referee once again had an issue and went to VAR. It came to the conclusion that the through ball to the striker was 'handled', so the goal got chalked off. Some very unfortunate events for the Leopards.

Some more late drama in the last moments of the game, saw the referee give the Seoul E-Land player, Kim Sung-hyun, his second yellow card. I still am not sure what this was due to, as it looked very, very weak. Overall, a good interesting opener, which was slightly tinged by some questionable decisions on the pitch.

Full Time: Jeju United 1-1 Seoul E-Land

Highlights of the game can be found below.



Gyeongnam welcomed Jeonnam Dragons to Changwon this weekend. In the hope of bouncing back from relegation last year. Jeonnam will also have the same idea after falling into the K League 2 back in 2018. The game started at a fast pace, with both teams going back and forth at one another. However, neither team were able to break down their opponents' defence. Both teams came close in the first 25 minutes. Near misses from both sides added to the suspense.

It was a rather feisty affair, which saw a lot of tackles flying in from both teams. The two teams received two yellow cards each in the game respectively. Towards the end of the game, it was more Jeonnam than the home side, but Gyeonngam stood firm and held onto the point. While not the greatest start for a team looking to hit the ground running, however, Jeonnam will be a hard team to cut down this year.

Full Time: Gyeongnam FC 0-0 Jeonnam Dragons

Highlights of the game can be found below.



Previous Meetings

The last time the two sides met competitively, was back in the 2017 K League 2 season. With Seoul winning one game, and Gyeongnam winning three of them. The last game was back in October 2017, when Gyeongnam ran out 2-1 victors. A penalty from Jung Won-jin put Gyeongnam ahead after five minutes. Seoul E-Land's Kim Sung-ju was sent off early doors.

It has been over two and a half years since the two teams have met in the K League 2.

Gyeongnam doubled their lead in the 54th minute, with a goal from Kwon Yong-hyun. The Leopards managed to pull one back with Joo Han-sung. Gyeongnam were promoted that season. They had a brilliant 2018 season in the top flight, finishing runners up to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. It was less than a stellar year however for Gyeongnam in 2019, as they were relegated by rivals Busan in the promotion/relegation playoff.

Team News

The big news coming out of the Seoul E-Land camp is the red card to Kim Sung-hyun. He will be unavailable in this fixture, due to his second booking at the end of the game, sending the defender walking. The boss, Chung Jung-yong went with Richard Sukutu-Pasu and Leandro upfront in the first half. Won Ki-jong replaced Sukutu-Pasu in the second half. It is apparent that Sukutu-Pasu got a kncok in the first half, and maybe a doubt for the Gyeongnam game. His replacement, Won Ki-jong has been a fan favourite with a cult-like following and has been turning heads in recent weeks.

Seoul may also be without still be without Kim Si-young snd Kim Jin-hwan. The boss may have his first patched upside when they welcome Gyeongnam on the weekend. Seoul will also have Serbian attacking midfielder Lazar Arsić to use in the game against Gyeongnam, so they still have some options on the bench. Seoul looked a lot more organized than in previous seasons at the back. A back two of Lee Sang-min and Kim Dong-gwon may be the power behind the engine. Seoul will look to attack early doors on Sunday. They may be more settled playing at home, than what they did against Jeju.

For Gyeongnam, it has been reported that Negueba is still three to four weeks away from starting for the side. It also became clear that Ansell may still be a doubt for Gyeongnam. This may put them in a difficult position come Sunday. They need to push forward and try to get some points on the board as soon as possible so sitting back may not be such an option. Seoul fans have started to see what Leandro can do when being fed good balls by Kim Min-kyun. However, Gyeongnam will need to attack the capital side. We may be in for a few goals in this fixture. 

The Adversary

Gyeongnam did not have a fantastic year in 2019. Finishing 11th in the K League 1. It was rivals Busan IPark who sent them down. After a 0-0 stalemate in the first leg, Busan put two goals past Gyeongnam to seal their fate.

Gyeongnam were busy in the transfer window. K League fans will recognize the name Uros Djeric. Who came in from Gangwon FC. Other signings come in the form of Negueba. Gyeongnam have lost some talent in the winter, however. One of their top stars, Takahiro Kunimoto signed with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. This year could be a rebuilding season for Gyeongnam, a side who will look to try to get back into the K League 1, sooner, rather than later.

Who To Watch

K League 2 fans will be aware of Jang Hyuk-jin, who played just over a century of games for Ansan Greeners over the last three seasons. The Korean was mostly found on the left-wing throughout the 2019 campaign. In what was a year the Green Wolves only just missed out on the playoffs. His contributions for Gyeongnam could be vital on pushing teams with shaky defences. We have seen Seoul's poor defending in the past, and with Kim Sung-hyun's red on the weekend. There may still be some room for improvement.

Jang hyuk-jin, casing problems for Seoul E-Land, in Ansan Greeners' 3-1 win against the Leopards in the 2019 K League 2 campaign.
The boss Seol Ki-hyun did not play him in the Jeonnam game, which may have been a surprise for some fans. Yet Jang was a bit of a thorn in the Leopards side last year, having assisted in one game, and scoring in the other. Ansan won three and drew one last year against Seoul. He was heavily influential in claiming the points. Fans may hope the gaffer has done his research on this, leading into Sunday. 

Prediction

An interesting affair will unfold on Sunday. I think Seoul E-Land took a lot of people by surprise in the Jeju game. Seoul looked a lot more organized and they looked like they had a spark in their eye. Maybe I am looking at them with rose-tinted glasses at the moment, but it is an improvement from the previous two years. We may need to see more of Seoul in the upcoming weeks, to truly gauge how they will perform this year.

For Gyeongnam, this is a game they will expect to win. However, Seoul are not to be underestimated this year. Gyeongnam failed to score against Jeonnam on the weekend, and they may be without two of their foreign talents this Sunday. Both teams will look to take something out of the game and get the ball rolling.

If I was a neutral, I would definitely tune in to this one. We could be in for quite a classic.

Full-Time Prediction: Seoul E-Land 1-1 Gyeongnam FC

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