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Preview: Sangju Sangmu vs. Ulsan Hyundai

Lee Chung-yong

As the season reaches the half way point, few would have predicted that Sangju Sangmu would be one of Ulsan Hyundai's main challengers for the 2020 K League 1 crown, yet the two sides go into this Gameweek 13 clash separated by only five points. Todd Wilde previews Saturday's match.

Last Time Out

Sangmu remain five points off the top after an impressive 2-0 victory over Daegu FC. The military side broke the deadlock through Kang Sang-woo and Korean youth international Oh Se-hun's second half goals, their fifth win in six league games.

Match Highlights:

Ulsan Hyundai extended their lead over Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to three points after a narrow 1-0 win over Gangwon FC, their fourth straight victory. Júnior Negrão's 15th goal in 12 league games was enough for the victory, however the side were indebted to Jo Hyeon-woo as he somehow preserved a clean sheet under intense pressure from Gangwon's strikeforce. The Korean international is providing a convincing case to be Korea's number one goalkeeper with his form this season, including three world class saves at the weekend.

Match Highlights:

Previous Meetings

In Gameweek 1, Ulsan Hyundai opened their season with a 4-0 victory over an injury ravaged and disorganised Sangju side. Júnior Negrão's double highlighted a performance full of crafted team passing, as Lee Sang-heon and debutant Yun Bitgaram put the gloss on a convincing display of attacking football.


Ulsan have won 14 of the 22 encounters between the two sides, including five of the last six. Sangju have traditionally found the Horangi to be a bit of a bogey side, claiming victory only four times in their history, with four games ending in a draw.

Team News

Both teams go into this clash without any suspensions or fresh injury concerns. Korean internationals Hong Chul and Moon Seon-min had to settle for a place on the bench in the last gameweek, behind Ulsan's Seol Young-woo and Sangju's Kim Bo-sub respectively. Given both sides are on a rich vein of form, it is possible Kim Tae-wan and Kim Do-hoon will name an unchanged first eleven.




What To Watch

For Sangju, this match represents a chance for coach Kim Tae-wan to show just how much his conscripts have improved since being embarrassed by Ulsan on the opening day. Their strength lies in a dynamic and youthful attacking front three. Kang Sang-woo has been extremely effective making runs into the box and central areas from his natural position on the left wing, whilst Korean youth international Oh Se-hun is on fantastic form, with 4 goals in 7 appearances since recovering from a knee injury at the start of the season.

Oh Se-hun
Oh Se-hun is in brilliant form since returning from injury
Behind the front four, Sangju's main strength has been their collective organisation, as the team has been extremely well organised and disciplined when moving out of defence with the ball. Kim Bo-sub's form has kept 2019's K League 1 assist king Moon Seon-min out of the first eleven, however Moon will still play a key part as an impact substitute. He is comfortable anywhere in the opposition half with license to roam in attacking areas, and his abilities as a counter attacking threat may make Ulsan think twice about commiting bodies forward if they are in need of a late winner.


Won Du-jae will need to continue his fantastic form at the base of Ulsan's midfield if the side is to continue their unbeaten run against stiff opposition this weekend. The AFC U23 Championship MVP has been a revelation in his debut K League season, and was the key for the side in their win over Daegu. He was successful in disrupting the opposition's passing rhythm with 8 interceptions, won 9 out of his 10 duels, and allowed his teammates to retain the ball with a 97% passing accuracy.

Won Du-jae
Won Du-jae is an unsung hero in this season's Ulsan side

Further back, Ulsan's talented centre back Dave Bulthuis has looked assured and dominant so far this season, but may well have his most difficult test of the season when faced with the physical challenge of marking Oh Se-hun. This tussle will likely prove key to Sangju's hopes of getting on the scoresheet.


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Prediction

This game promises to be a real test of Ulsan Hyundai's title credentials, and a lot rests on whether Won Du-jae and Dave Bulthuis will be able to deal with Sangju's talented and confident front four. Sangju has a fantastic chance to move just two points off of top with a win, however Ulsan should have too much might for the military side.

Sangju Sangmu 1-2 Ulsan Hyundai

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