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FA Cup Preview: FC Seoul vs Pohang Steelers

FC Seoul take on fellow K League 1 side Pohang Steelers on Wednesday night in the KEB Hana Bank FA Cup quarter final. With Seoul languishing in the lower reaches of the table, the FA Cup might just be seen as a way to salvage what is looking like an already gloomy season for Choi Yong-soo's men. Four-time FA Cup winners Pohang head to the capital with something of a dilemma. Sitting in third place and with Jeonbuk away at the weekend, will the Steelers opt to field a full strength team in midweek, or will they prioritise the bread and butter of the league? 

Overview

via Soccerway

Last Time Out

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 3-0 FC Seoul

FC Seoul's dismal run of form continued on Sunday after suffering a 3-0 away loss to K League 1 champions Jeonbuk. The Green Warriors opened the scoring on 13 minutes through Han Kyo-won first to react after Yang Han-bin parried out Kunimoto's cross from the left. The second came on the stroke of half time, Lee Seung-gi sweeping home a cut back from the touchline by Lee Yong under pressure from Ko Kwang-min. Then, glancing header on 63 minutes from new boy Gustavo put the cherry on top and well and truly sealed and comfortable win for Jeonbuk.

FA Cup

FC Seoul overcame K League 2 promotion favourites Daejeon Hana Citizen on penalties following a 1-1 draw in Round 4 to set up Wednesday's quarter final tie. Pohang also needed extra time, edging past fellow K League 1 side Sangju Sangmu in a 3-2 win. With the Steelers not in the ACL, they entered the competition in Round 3 where they eased passed Gyeongju Citizen of the K3 League to advance. FC Seoul have just one FA Cup in their trophy cabinet, overcoming Incheon in the 2015 final. Pohang meanwhile have four FA Cup wins to their name, the most recent being in 2013.

Highlights



Pohang Steelers 1-1 Incheon United

Meanwhile, Pohang were held at home to K League 1 basement side Incheon United following a 1-1 draw. Incheon took the lead via a Stefan Mugoša penalty on 29 minutes, the Montenegrin international expertly tucking the ball into the corner with Steelers custodian Kang Hyun-mu diving in the opposite direction. However, just give minutes later and Pohang were back on level terms via Stanislav Iljutcenko. Some industrious wing work by Manuel Palacios and a smart pass into Lee Kwang-hyeok had the Steelers bearing down on goal. Lee then square to Iljutcenko who swept home the equaliser with what was Pohang's number 10's 10th goal of of the season.

Highlights


Previous Meetings

The Steelers visited Sangam just a couple of weeks ago, emerging as 3-1 winners despite falling behind just before half time. Cho Young-wook's lob gave Seoul the lead on 37 minutes but a Stanislav Iljutcenko brace turned the game on its head with goals on 52 and 61 minutes. Manuel Palacios sealed the win in the 90th, firing in his third goal of the season. In the previous meeting this term in May, Seoul emerged as 2-1 winners at the Steelyard thanks to goals from Hwang Hyun-soo and Osmar. A defensive mix-up between centre back Kim Nam-chun and goalkeeper Yu Sang-hun allowed Iljutcenko to score what will have been the easiest goal of the German's career thus far but two headers from corners, the first by Hwang Hyun-soo on 35 minutes, the second by Osmar on 73, turned the game on its head and sealed the points for Choi Yong-soo's men.

From the four meetings last year, Seoul picked up just one win, lost twice and drew 0-0 at the Steel Yard in May. Overall, from 149 meetings, Pohang have 55 wins to Seoul's 54 and 40 draws.

Team News

FC Seoul are unlikely to have Osmar available after the Spanish midfielder was absent from the match day squad at the weekend. Centre back Yun Young-sun's name was also omitted from the 18 on Sunday, suggesting that the on-loan Ulsan man is not fit. Hwang Hyun-soo is fit again, however. Han Seung-gyu should be available, though, after being forced to sit out the defeat to his parent club Jeonbuk at the weekend.


For Pohang, Kim Ki-dong will be faced with the dilemma of whether to rotate his squad and prioritise the league or the cup. The Steeler have Jeonbuk away at the weekend, a win over the Green Warriors would narrow the gap to just two points. Against Sangju in the last round, Coach Kim fielded a strong team. Nam Jun-jae and Shin Dong-woon could be recalled to give the likes of Palacios and Lee Kwang-hyeok a rest. Lee Seung-mo will also be looking for a recall whilst Paločević could also be given a run out to help build up match fitness after returning from injury.


The Adversary


Kim Ki-dong's Pohang Steelers make the trip to the capital on Wednesday on a run of eight games unbeaten in all competitions with six wins and two draws since the 20th June. During that time, Pohang have conceded just three in the league, five overall, and currently sit third place in the K League 1 table. The 1-1 draw over Incheon at the weekend, along with Sangju's 5-1 loss to Ulsan, meant that the Steelers leapfrogged the army side and into the ACL places, five points behind Jeonbuk who they face at the weekend. Pohang have the second-best attack in the division having scored 26 goals, 16 more than Seoul, and have only failed to score once this term. The North Gyeongsang side have scored most of their goals in the second half of matches this term, predominantly between the 60th and 75th minutes. On the counter attack, with the pace of Palacios and Song Min-gyu, Pohang will prove to be a tough test for Seoul on Wednesday night. 

Eulji Lewis  

What To Watch


The FA Cup is FC Seoul's only realistic chance of qualifying for the AFC Champions League in 2021, given that the capital club are currently second-bottom and 14 points behind the top three. Seoul will have to be at their absolute best in order for them muster something of a performance against an in-form Pohang Steelers side. How Seoul handle Pohang's front four, lone striker Stanislav Iljutcenko, and his supporting cast of Palacios, Song Min-kyu and quite possibly Aleksandar Paločević will be key in the capital side getting a result. At the moment, Choi Yong-soo appears to be grasping in order to find a winning formula and can't seem to settle on a midfield pairing. Han Seung-gyu's return will add some much-needed vigour, but without Osmar's discipline and positional sense, it will be difficult.

Prediction

Seoul, second bottom and without a win that wasn't a penalty shootout in over a month, will be the underdogs. Pohang have won at Sangam once already this season and will be favourites to do so again and book their place in the semi finals of the cup. The Steelers have good squad depth and fielded a strong team away to Sangju in the last round and so will be expected to do the same come Wednesday night.

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