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FA Cup Preview: Seongnam FC vs Chungnam Asan FC

Seongnam FC are facing Chungnam Asan FC, the only team in K League 2 that haven't won a match yet, at home for FA Cup Round 3 fixture. Seongnam on the other hand, are in a slump as they failed to record a win in the last five matches. Would the beginner's luck favor Chungnam to make a historic victory over the Magpies in their first season? If not, will Seongnam prove the quality of K League 1 and achieve their first win after May?

Last Time Out

Busan IPark 1-1 Seongnam FC

Busan clashed with Seongnam at home on June 27th, hoping to continue their winning streak after the victory over Incheon United. But Seongnam's desire for victory was probably greater as the Magpies had lost four matches in a row. Busan began the game with a 4-1-4-1 formation that they have been using in pretty much every fixture this season, while Seongnam used a 4-3-3 formation which they haven't utilized this year. It was obvious that Kim Nam-il was concentrating more on offense as he finally switched from a three center back system to a back four.

It was a roller coaster ride for both teams. In the early match, Seongnam showed sharp offensive plays with a fast tempo and direct passes from the defensive third to the attacking third. Jamshid Iskanderov was the key player that administered playmaking, and his simple but keen passes in the midfield effectively opened a path through Busan's defenders. In the 8th minute, Iskanderov's smart first touch led to one-on-one chance against Kim Ho-jun but Park Joon-gang stole the ball, and accidentally kicked the ball that was out of his sight and put it in his own goal to give Seongnam the lead.

The match seemed to lean toward the away team's win pretty early in the game, but it wasn't that easy. In the 45th minute right before the half-time, Choi Ji-mook received his second yellow card of the day and was sent off, leaving Seongnam one player short. Kim Nam-il quickly lowered the lines in order to place more players in the penalty box, but that meant IPark superstar Rômulo da Silva could have larger space to dribble the ball and make plays. Rômulo kept taking shots from range in the second half, and in the 68th minute, Rômulo took a breathtaking cannon shot outside the penalty box and scored a goal finally. Busan did not stop launching a series of attacks, locking the Magpies up in their defensive third. To make things worse, Lee Chang-yong received another red card for Seongnam in the 78th minute, and the Gyeonggi-based team now had to face Busan with only nine players on the pitch. Despite all the unfavorable factors for Seongnam, the home team failed to score another goal, and the match ended 1-1 which was probably the optimal result for the Magpies given the circumstances.

Ansan Greeners FC 1-1 Chungnam Asan FC

Ansan faced Chungnam in Ansan Wa~ Stadium on June 27th, aiming to make a winning streak for the first time this season. As Ansan were placed in the 8th and Chungnam in 10th place, this match had an extremely high value to both teams to end their slump and change their momentum. Ansan started the match with a 4-4-2 formation concentrating on Felipe da Silva's post plays, while Chungnam implemented a 3-5-2 formation with a focus on utilizing link-up plays on the right side of the field with the contribution of the false nine Armin Mujakic.

Ansan dominated over Chungnam during the first 30 minutes. In the 10th minute, Felipe's post play in the penalty box gave a great chance to Choi Geon-joo, and Choi successfully scored. But Chungnam's continued use of the right side of the field cast a glow on the away team, as the Owls' beautiful systematic plays led to Mujakic's goal in the 34th minute. After the first half, both teams placed much weight on defense and pressure and neither could progress the attacks into the opponent's penalty box. Therefore most chances they made were crosses or range shots outside the box with low accuracy, and no definitive opportunity was generated. The match ended 1-1, and both teams' places on the league table remained unchanged

Previous Meetings

Both teams have technically never faced each other as this season is Chungnam Asan FC's first season as a citizen in history, whereas when they met as Asan Mugunghwa the team was made up of players doing there national service. Therefore there is no previous meeting that can truly provide hints regarding this matchup's result. This makes the game even more interesting, though.

Team News

Seongnam are not expected to have problems with calling upon anyone that played the last K League fixture for this match. Although two players (Choi Ji-mook, Lee Chang-yong) received a red card in the game versus Busan, the suspension in the K League does not affect the players' action in the FA Cup. Chungnam will be okay and will have a full roster to choose from.

South Korea National Team forward Na Sang-ho finally played the debut match as a Magpie against Busan on 27th, but because he went onto the pitch in the 77th minute and Seongnam were having all players back to focus on defense, Na's offensive talents were not really observable. The newcomer Magpie is expected to start the match against Chungnam and boost his performance in the team.

Chungnam Asan's midfielder Lee Sang-min received a 15-match-suspension sentence and a four million Korean Won fine for driving under the influence. Although the suspension is given by K League and does not affect FA Cup, Chungnam probably will not allow Lee to play the game considering the circumstances.

As this season is the Owls' first season in history, this fixture is technically the first time Chungnam are facing a K League 1 team. Regardless of the result of the match, it's going to be a historic moment for the away team.

What To Watch

Will Seongnam finally score a goal from open play?

It might be shocking, but Seongnam have not scored a goal from open play since May 31st. The Magpies have scored only two goals in June, and they were a penalty kick goal and opponent's own goal. The lack of effective offensive tactics caused interruptions in the midfield and the attacking third, and now even defense of the Magpies has started to crack. In their last five outings, Seongnam have lost four matches and drew one.

But the fans could observe hope in the match against Busan. Kim Nam-il, who has been only using complicated back three/five formation to concentrate on defense, changed the formation to a 4-3-3 versus Busan. In contrast to his tactics in the earlier matches, Kim's 4-3-3 formation was very simple but effective when they were transitioning from defense to offense.

Instead of complex back three formation and systematic plays, Seongnam started to target the simple and direct style of football. (Source: K League YouTube Channel)

Progressing toward the opponent's side with a fast tempo and direct passing created larger spaces for the three forwards, and the players' spacing was much better compared to the matches in the past. The problems of Seongnam in the earlier fixtures were that sometimes the players were too close to each other and sometimes they were too far apart, but the game against Busan proved that Kim Nam-il recognizes what's wrong and is working on fixing them.

Compared to the earlier fixtures, Seongnam's attack progression became much better. (Source: K League YouTube Channel - SEOvSFC , K League YouTube Channel - SFCvSSB)
Seongnam are considered to have an advantage against Chungnam as it's their home game and the players are more experienced. It's very likely for Kim Nam-il to use a 4-3-3 formation again. It will be an interesting point to watch the Magpies try to score a goal from open play.

Shot Accuracy

As I have been introducing these numbers in the previous articles, the shot accuracy of Seongnam is severe. From Round Two to Round Nine, Seongnam made 32 shots on target and only scored two goals from open play. This makes the rate of goals per shots on target for Seongnam 6.25%. If the Magpies fail to improve the accuracy in this match, Chungnam might be able to overcome the hardships and record a shocking victory.

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Seongnam FC 2-0 Chungnam Asan FC

It's a battle between two teams that are performing very unsatisfyingly in the league. Both teams are also considered to have the weakest offense in their leagues (Seongnam have scored six goals so far, Chungnam five). However, the Magpies' performance in the match against Busan was enough for me to have hope that they will show much more productive and impressive offensive plays from now on. 

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