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Preview: Gwangju FC vs Incheon United

Preview: Gwangju FC vs Incheon United

Gwangju FC have been buoyed by consecutive wins catapulting them up the K League 1 table. Park Jin-seop's Yellows host a struggling Incheon United side in a 6pm kick off on Wednesday with some expectation on their shoulders. 

Last Time Out

Gwangju FC 3-1 Busan IPark

After a positive start to the game, Gwangju found themselves frustrated by both the woodwork and referee Park Byung-jin who consulted VAR to deny Rustam Ashurmatov an opener in the 12th minute. This agitation was compounded on the stroke of half time as Romulo struck past Lee Jin-hyung against the run of play to give the Royals the lead.

Lim Min-hyeok replacing Choi Jun-hyeok in an attacking change on 60 minutes had the desired effect as Lee Eu-ddeum picked out Willyan in the box. The Brazilian twisted and turned to show composure and curl in the equaliser. Just as it looked as though the match could swing either way, Felipe out-muscled Dostonbek Tursunov in the 70th minute and tucked home with precision inside the post. Gustavo Vintecinco came off the bench as Busan tried to salvage something but spurned a good opportunity in stoppage time moments before Kim Jeong-hwan crossed for Kim Ju-gong to seal the points.

                                    [READ: Match recap by Busan columnist Todd Wilde]


Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 1-0 Incheon United

By no means the comprehensive defeat that many expected for Lim Wan-seop's side in Jeonju, Incheon looked bright on the break and could have taken something from the game on another day. Setting up in their usual 3-4-3 formation, Incheon saw plenty of the ball and could have taken the lead had Lim Eun-su showed more composure on 33 minutes. Experienced keeper Jeong San denied Kim Jin-su from range to give Lim's side further hope at the break.

The second half was a tale of two penalty areas. Kim Yeon-soo's clumsy hand ball from Lee Dong-gook's knock down allowed the 41-year-old to firmly strike the penalty into the roof of the net. With Lee Seung-gi's speculative shot blocked by a stray arm, Kim Bo-kyung was given penalty duty despite Lee Dong-gook still being on the pitch. Unfortunately for Jeonbuk, the former Ulsan Hyundai midfielder saw his spot kick saved. Incheon almost claimed a point at the death as Song Beom-keun pushed Stefan Mugosa's low drive around the post.


Previous Meetings

These two sides last met in K League 1 in 2017 as all four fixtures failed to entertain with three goalless draws. The only goal that season, which saw Gwangju finish bottom, was scored by Kim Yong-hwan in the 86th-minute at Sungui Arena Park. 

The Yellows have failed to score in their past five meetings with Incheon. Jung Jo-gook netted their last in a 1-1 draw back in 2016 to cancel out Kim Do-hyuk's early opener, while Gwangju's last win also came that season thanks to Kim Min-hyeok's 91st-minute strike. The Yellows only home league win against Wednesday's opponents came in 2015 thanks to current Incheon man Kim Ho-nam in a 1-0 victory.

Team News

Yet to break into the first team but showing plenty of promise, 19-year-old Heo Yool has been selected for international duty so is unavailable for selection. Eom Won-sang, vital to the team's style of play in recent weeks, left the field early on Sunday after taking a couple of heavy challenges. He calmed fans nerves by saying he was in good condition after the game on social media so is in contention once more. Another key player of late Lee Eu-ddeum also took a heavy knock in an aerial challenge. He managed to continue gingerly but may be a doubt. Yeo Reum will captain the side having made his 200th appearance for the club at the weekend.

 Incheon's Choi Won-chang will join Heo Yool at U19 national team training and be unavailable for this trip. Elsewhere in centre midfield Rashid Mahazi has been absent since a fine opening day display while Gordan Bunoza's injury troubles persist at the back.

Kim Sung-ju may be playing in a side that boast the third-least number of completed passes in the league but the 29-year-old still ranks in the top 10 for 'Key Passes'. Having had a stop-start time in his Incheon career up to date, Kim will hope to cement a more permanent place in midfield this season. 

Incheon boss Lim Wan-seop is yet to taste success in his spell at the club and is currently trying to arrest a run of four straight defeats. After starting the season with two stalemates, a sturdy looking defence has started to leak while mustering just two goals all season. Both of those have come from former Gwangju forward Kim Ho-nam, who also looked lively at Jeonbuk at the weekend. Should Incheon take advantage of a kinder set of fixtures in coming weeks they will have to hope that talisman Stefan Mugosa rediscovers his scoring boots.

What To Watch

Finding his feet at K League 1 level, Felipe has not just started hitting the back of the net but also been more involved in general play. This is shown by being continually fouled and winning free kicks for set-piece specialist Lee Eu-ddeum to whip balls into the box. Willyan's return has benefited Felipe greatly with the Brazilian pair continuing their understanding from last season. Notable against Busan was how Willyan floated some of his crosses to the back post for Felipe to attack with his head. 


Prediction - Gwangju FC 2-0 Busan I'Park

Gwangju will be facing the expectation of victory for the first time this season. Two straight wins should see them brimming with confidence as key players such as Willyan and Eom Won-sang get up to full speed. Should those key men who took knocks in the Busan game be available, I see another Gwangju win on the horizon.

[READ: K League 1 Round 7 Preview]

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