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Preview: Jeju United vs Suwon FC

Both Jeju United and Suwon FC scored victories in the FA Cup last weekend and will look to continue their recent form when the pair meet at the Jeju World Cup Stadium on Saturday afternoon.  Former Cyprus international Valentinos Sielis made his long-awaited debut for the islanders against K5 side Songwol FC and looked very solid in the back and moving forward.  An Byoung-jun has been in top form for Suwon FC this season and will be one to watch for the visitors.  KLU's Branko Belan looks ahead to what could prove to be a pivotal early season fixture in K League 2.

Match: Jeju United vs Suwon FC
Venue: Jeju World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday June 13th, 2020; 16:00 KST

Last Time Out

Jeju United 4-0 Songwol FC (FA Cup 2nd Round)

Jeju United continued their winning ways, this time by advancing in the FA Cup over K5 side Songwol FC with a relatively easy 4-0 victory which in terms of a scoreline looks good, but they could have had several more goals.  The islanders dominated the match from start to finish controlling possession for most of the proceedings and were already three up at the break.

Im Chan-ul, Kim Hyun-woo, Lee Eun-beom and Baek Dong-gyu were the goal scorers for the home side.  Kim Ji-un had a particularly good match playing on the right side of defence as he was a constant threat creating chances which led to the islanders putting the match away before halftime.  Another bit of good news was the return of Valentinos Sielis to the lineup.  He put in a strong performance and there is now some indication that he has returned to full health and may be made available for league play as soon as this coming weekend.

Suwon FC 10-0 Hyochang FC (FA Cup 2nd Round)

Suwon have been in fine form to start 2020 and it was on display in a big way as they dispatched their second round FA Cup opponents by a considerable margin.  They were already three goals up by halftime thanks to Min Hyun-hong, Song Su-yeong and Akos Szarka.  No one could have predicted what was going to unfold after the restart, however, as they found the back of the net on another seven occasions.  In the end, the Hungarian, who was signed this past off-season, finished with a hat trick, while Min, who opened the goal parade ended with a brace, as did Kim Jae-heon.  Choi Kyu-baek and Kim Ju-yeob had a goal each.

Team News

The return to fitness of Sielis is a welcome sight for the islanders, but there are other areas of concern which need to be addressed.  Elias Aguilar is questionable for the weekend and Eder has only played once this season, which would put his current form into question.  On a positive note, Joo Min-kyu has been firing on all cylinders and Gong Min-hyun has made the most of his playing time since being inserted into the starting eleven.
A player whose status is up in the air is Ahn Hyun-beom, however.  A recent media report sourced by Viva La K League on Twitter has suggested he could be on the move in the summer as Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors have apparently shown some interest in him with both Lee Yong and Choi Chul-soon already in their mid-thirties.  Whether Jeju will allow the move to go through is entirely another matter, as they already rejected a move to the Vancouver Whitecaps over the winter.

Suwon flexed their muscle and showed off their depth in their cup win last weekend, but were also defeated 2-1 at home against Bucheon last time out in the league.  An Byoung-jun continues to roll with six goals to his credit this season, and also leads K League 2 in touches inside the box through the first five rounds.  The only question with regards to the coming fixture this weekend is how they will line up tactically.  In the first two rounds, they employed only one striker up top, but more recently have played a more attacking style owing to the fact that they have been able to find their touch in the attacking third.  A lot will also depend on how Jeju line up in the back.  Should they play four defenders (assuming Sielis gets his first league start) it could have an even more direct impact on the final result.

The Adversary

Suwon players celebrate a goal against Asan in their 5-0 win on May 24th.
Suwon have been a force offensively this season thanks to the exploits of the likes of Marlone and Danilo Alves.

Suwon have been known to fly out of the gate at the beginning of a new season and have done so again in 2020.  But, they tapered off quite a bit down the stretch run last year after being tipped as a possible contender for a playoff spot.  Having lost their last league match, their tempo will be determined by a number of factors - how they approach the match in the first fifteen minutes, whether they will look to attack or try to hit on the counter, and, ultimately, who is selected for the starting eleven.

The club has a lot of talented pieces this year and could indeed be primed for a run to put themselves in contention as a club vying for a move up to the first division next season, but some things still need to come together for that to happen.  Their two clean sheet wins in the league were against Ansan Greeners and Chungnam Asan, both clubs in the lower half of the table, but their 3-1 win against Gyeongnam FC at home was a bit of an eye opener.  Will they be able to have that kind of success on the road against a side which has now found its footing after a slow start and will be the host this weekend?  That story will begin to unfold at the first whistle on Saturday afternoon.

What to Watch

Nam Ki-il will have some things to take into consideration when making a final decision on his starting eleven this weekend.  He has had a lot of success lately with an all-Korean lineup, and may opt for such a variation again against Suwon.  How will he line up defensively?  If Valentinos Sielis is indeed ready for his first league start, then it will likely be four in the back for the islanders, unless the manager decides to stick to the 3-4-3 formation he has used quite a bit recently.

The good news with regards to the cup win last weekend is that it was an opportunity to build some depth in the squad as Kim Hyun-woo and Baek Seung-woo debuted for the club in the win, and both played important roles in the result.

On the other side, Suwon will likely look to rebound after a losing performance against Bucheon, and with both sides just points apart in the table, this could turn out to be the match of the round.  A win for Jeju would put them on ten points and vault them up to third, so they will be looking to keep their momentum going.

Lee Chang-min will be returning from his league suspension after being sent off with a direct red card against Daejeon a few weeks back.  He did not particularly impress in the cup match, although his free kick led to the fourth goal for the islanders.  His discipline from this point forward could be a key factor in the islanders' success going into the summer portion of the schedule.
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This one could be a difficult one to call.  Jeju have a penchant for leaving it late in matches and they will be at home once again, which they could well use to their advantage once again.  Suwon are not to be taken lightly, however, and if they manage to be a threat going forward, they may cause the islanders' back line problems in the later stages of the match if the defenders begin to tire out.  It will be a close affair, but Jeju may be able to edge it if they keep their shape defensively and realize their chances in front of goal.  Home field should be just enough to get them over the line in this one.

Predicted Score: Jeju United 2-1 Suwon FC


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