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Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Bucheon FC 1995

Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Bucheon FC 1995
Gyeongnam FC goes into Sunday's clash with league leaders Bucheon FC 1995 in good form, unbeaten in three games in all competitions.  Bucheon comes into the encounter looking for a reaction after a narrow home defeat to fellow promotion candidates Jeonnam Dragons.  A win for the hosts would propel them level on points at the top of the league. Or will Bucheon pick up the three points to further their grip on top of K League 2?  KLU columnist James Edrupt previews the match.

Match: Gyeongnam FC vs Bucheon FC 1995
Venue: Changwon Football Center,  Changwon
Kick off: Sunday, 21st June 2020.  18:00 (KST)

Last Time Out

Gyeongnam FC 2-1 Ansan Greeners

The Reds edged out the Green Wolves on Monday night through a winner from substitute Park Gi-dong with just eleven minutes left on the clock.  The game was played at a frantic pace from the first whistle with both teams failing to dominate possession.  The opening goal came after twenty-eight minutes from playmaker Baek Sung-dong who expertly finished into the far corner, after a burst into the box by striker Uroš Đerić caused panic.  However, Ansan to their credit didn't just roll over and give up they really came at the home side and drew level just nine minutes later through Brazilian Felipe Augusto nodding the ball in after a cute lofted pass into the box caused confusion.  It was the former Boavista player's first goal for his new club.

In the end, the hosts eventually came out on top late on, when the aforementioned Park Gi-dong opened his account for the season.  Put through on goal from a towering Nick Ansell headed clearance, he raced away from a lunging defender and calmly slotted home the winner past Lee Hong-seong.  It was enough to bag all three points for the Changwon-based outfit.  The victory moves the Reds up to in sixth place in the league on nine points.  After the defeat the Green Wolves remain bottom of the table with just three points to their name.

Bucheon FC 1995 0-1 Jeonnam Dragons

Bucheon fell to a second consecutive home loss to a very well-drilled Dragons outfit on Sunday evening.  The hosts had been looking neat and tidy in possession but they weren't hurting the visitors in the final third.  It was to cost them dearly as six-foot-six target man Julian Kristoffersen directed a peach of a header in of the far post just after the half-hour mark.  All the credit must go to winger Lee You-hyeon whose inch-perfect cross just had to be directed in by the Norwegian for his second goal for his new club.

Both sides finished the game with ten men with Bucheon's center-half Cho Beom-seok, deemed to be the last defender, the first to see red after seventy-four minutes after hauling back Kristoffersen as the striker was through on goal.  Then with just four minutes remaining the away side's, Kim Ju-won received his second yellow card after an elbow on Brazilian midfielder William Barbio as they challenged for a high ball.  The Dragons held on for a great victory on the road and are still the only undefeated team in K League 2 after six matches.  Despite the home defeat, Bucheon still remain top of the table on twelve points just one point ahead of the chasing pack, lead by Daejeon Hana Citizen.

Previous Meetings

The two sides have met twelve times in the league and the honors are pretty much even.  Gyeongnam holds the slight upper hand winning six, with Bucheon winning five.  There has been one solitary draw, back in 2017 with a last gasp Baek Ki-jong goal that salvaged a point in a four-goal encounter.  The Gyeongsangnam-do outfit is unbeaten against Bucheon in the last five games, putting twelve goals past them in the process.

They will be happy to see the back of former Gyeongnam striker Marcão who seemed to enjoy playing against them.  In four games he scored six goals that included a couple of braces.  The latest of these came in the most recent contest between the two sides, a 2-1 home victory for the Reds' back in 2017 in late September.  The Reds went on to gain promotion as champions into the top flight that season.

Team News

Ansell (L) put in an assured performance on Monday and will be looking to make the center back spot his own.
The Reds' gaffer Seol Ki-hyeon heads into the clash with the luxury of a near fully fit squad to choose from.  However winter signing from Ulsan Hyundai, Hwang Il-soo, picked up a knock in training and will be side-lined for around two to three weeks.  Good news from the camp is that captain Ha Sung-min has completed his two-match suspension and is available for selection.  The 33 year-old is vital to the way the team operates, as he is the base to the more attack minded midfielders in the team.  His tall, strong build and his excellent reading of the game acts as a great screen for the back four.  Ha is a player Seol feels is the most important in the squad.   

Australian center back Nick Ansell performed very well against Ansan last time out and will be looking to secure a starting berth alongside ever present Lee Kwang-seon.  The new off-season recruit did limp off on Monday night with his troublesome calf injury, so he will have to be assessed during the week.  It will be interesting to see what starting eleven Seol selects as Gyeongnam were looking void of ideas in the initial part of the second half against the Green Wolves.  Bringing on utility man Park Chang-jun swung the game back in the host's favor with his overall endeavor that caused problems for the Ansan backline.  

The Adversary

Jefferson Baiano (C) in action for Bucheon vs Suwon FC
Table-toppers Bucheon travel south with a tough ask on their hands.  They are holding onto top spot just, by a point, as teams below them look to leapfrog them into first place this weekend.  Their task won't have been helped by the sending off, of ever-present central defender Cho Beom-seok who will miss the clash through suspension.  They will be heavily relying on Brazilian duo of attacking midfielder William Barbio and compatriot Jefferson Baiano to make things happen in the final third.

They have an array of talent in the midfield areas with former Incheon United midfielder Cho Soo-chul at the forefront.  He has played every minute of every game this campaign and looks a very assured passer of the ball.  In striker Lee Hyeon-Il Bucheon have a forward in good form, already finding the net three times this season.  They are extremely well drilled in defense with only four goals being conceded in six games played.  The second-best in the league behind Jeonnam Dragons, who have only let in two goals.  Furthermore, they are the only team to have a 100 percent record on the road this campaign.  Their only two defeats in the league to date, have come at the Bucheon Stadium against Jeju United and Jeonnam Dragons respectively.

Who To Watch

Diminutive winger Baek sung-dong was at his teasing best last time out.  He scored a brilliant goal, curling a lovely shot into the corner to bring his goal tally up to two in the league.  He was guilty of two glaring misses in the same game but his overall contribution to the way Gyeongnam played was key.  Every time he was on the ball he is looking to make something happen.  He is starting to form a good understanding with striker Uroš Đerić.  It was the combination of them both that opened up space for Baek to rifle in the opener last Monday.  The versatile midfielder has the capabilities to play on either flank and he already has two goals to his name this campaign.  The former Suwon FC man is a confidence player and if he continues his fine form from the Ansan game he could give both Bucheon full-backs a torrid evening.

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Bucheon comes into the game in mixed form with only one win in their last four matches in all competitions.  In contrast, Gyeongnam is just starting to click into gear with a much-improved performance last time out, and they are now unbeaten in three.  The Changwon outfit has conceded ten goals in six matches - the second worse in the division - so Bucheon will gain confidence from this.  It's a game that could have goals in it, so I am going for an entertaining high scoring draw.

Predicted Score:  Gyeongnam FC 2-2 Bucheon FC 1995 

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