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Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Suwon FC

Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Suown FC
Gyeongnam FC plays host to surprise package Suwon FC on Saturday evening looking to continue there excellent form of late.  This clash has all the ingredients to be a fantastic tussle, with both sides looking to earn automatic promotion into K League 1.  Suwon FC beat the Reds' comprehensively 3-1 back in late May with an eye-catching display all round by the Gyeonggi-based side.  They come into the game however in patchy form, only winning once in four matches. but still remain second in the table.  Can the hosts pile on the pressure and take home the spoils?  KLU's James Edrupt previews this one.

Match: Gyeongnam FC vs Suwon FC
Venue: Changwon Football Center, Changwon.
Kick off: Saturday, August 29th, 2020.  18:30 (KST)

Last Time Out

Bucheon FC 1995 0-1 Gyeongnam FC

A rare late goal by on-loan defensive midfielder Jang Hyuk won all three points for the Reds' on Saturday evening in the Bucheon Stadium.  Jang is not known for his scoring ability with him only scoring twenty-one times in his eleven-year professional playing career.

This clash was not one for the highlight reel in all honesty.  Both sides were playing it very cautious early on, working each other out.  It was the hosts who were showing more urgency and they started to pin the visitors back in their half.   Bucheon were to have a chance right on the half time whistle when youngster Lee Kwang-jae smashed a drive against the outside of the post.  The main talking point of the first half was that the referee Kim Jung-ho seemed very card happy, booking four players, two from each side.

The game changed from the 60th-minute mark onward when Gyeongnam made a telling substitution, taking off the ineffective Han Ji-ho replacing him with the more dynamic Ko Kyung-min in the number 10 role.  Luc Castaignos playing as the lone striker just wasn't offering enough got replaced by Park Gi-dong just two minutes later.  Park made the Bucheon back-line panic every time he had the ball and the visitors started to get a clear foothold on the game.  As the game was looking like petering out into a stalemate.  Gyeongnam had other ideas, with just three minutes remaining, after a corner wasn't cleared well by the home side, Baek Sung-dong returned the ball into the six-yard box.  Through a melee of players, Jang Hyuk acrobatically hooked the ball into the net from five yards to take all three points home for the Changwon based outfit.

Bucheon after the loss remains in seventh on twenty points, whilst Gyeongnam moves up two places into fourth on twenty-five points.  The visitors are now unbeaten in six matches and have won four consecutive matches throughout August.

Suwon FC 2-0 Seoul E-Land

A second-half double from leading goalscorer An Byong-jun was enough for Suwon to take home the spoils on a hot and sticky night in Suwon.

In truth, the game could have gone either way.  E-Land was showing some promising signs in the first half, with Brazilian key operator Leandro at the heart of everything for the capital-based outfit.  He flashed a shot just wide as early as the second minute, as the visitors started the game in a positive fashion.  Suwon however started to show their class and began edging themselves back into the contest.  The game ended goal-less going into the interval with it still all to play for.

The hosts came out of the traps after the break and took the lead on sixty-two minutes through An after substitute Lars Veldwijk flicked on a header lofted into the box.  The North Korean anticipated the knockdown brilliantly, took a touch then placed the ball calmly passed the advancing Kim Hyung-keun in the Seoul E-Land goal.   The visitors piled on the pressure in search of an equalizer and they came a matter of inches away from doing so with just eight minutes to go.  Former FC Anyang midfielder Choi Jae- hoon smashed an effort off the crossbar from the edge of the box.  An put the icing on the cake in stoppage time finishing expertly into the left corner from twenty-five yards out.  The striker picked up the ball on the right-wing and cut inside onto this favored left-foot.  As the tired Seoul defenders retreated, An unleashed the shot to make certain of the three points for the home side.  Suwon after other results, finish the round of fixtures in second place, Seoul E-Land remain in sixth just three points off the playoff positions.

Previous Meetings

An Byeong-jun and Masatoshi Ishida were unplayable at times in the fixture earlier this season

The two teams have clashed just nine times in total with Suwon FC having a slight advantage, winning four and drawing three.  Gyeongnam finds Suwon to be a bit of a bogey side for them after only being victorious twice in this fixture.  Suwon FC is also unbeaten against the Reds' in their last three games, winning twice and drawing once.

They faced off in Game Week 4 this campaign in Suwon.  With the hosts running out easy 3-1 victors.  The striking duo of An Byong-jun and Japanese forward Masatoshi Ishida put on a dazzling display.  The latter bagging a brace and the former with a solitary strike.  Experienced winger Hwang Il-soo pulled one back for the visitors, but to no avail.

Team News

The hosts will be without loan signing from Ulsan Hyundai, Choi Jun.  He has accumulated five yellows cards, as a result, he must serve a one-match suspension.  Choi is a vital cog in the way Gyeongnam operate down the right-hand side of the defense, with his energy and his willingness to get to the by line.  The manager Seol Ki Hyeon will have to call on his squad depth to cover in Choi's absence.

The Reds' have had the luxury in previous games of keeping the same starting eleven fit and healthy.  The chemistry in the performances has shown this going unbeaten throughout August.  Key defender Bae Seung-jin is just one yellow card away from a suspension, so he'll have to tread carefully on Saturday.  The Changwon based side will be heavily reliant on experienced wingers Baek Sung-dong and Hwang Il-soo who have been in glorious form of late.  They have been heavily involved in the recent weeks, scoring goals or assisting their team-mates.  The manager likes to use Brazilian winger Negueba as an impact player off the bench, as the opposition tire late in matches  He has energy to burn and causes a lethargic defense to panic when he has the ball.

The Adversary

Suwon FC makes the long trip south knowing a win will put huge pressure on the pack in and around them at the top of K League 2.  They had been struggling to score of late compared to their blistering start to the season when they were scoring at will.  They still lead the league in goals scored (31), five goals ahead of Jeju United and seven ahead of Daejeon Hana Citizen respectively.  The dynamic duo up top of An Byong-jun and Ishida have formed a wonderful partnership.  Out of the thirty-one goals scored An has sixteen of those and Ishida has chipped in with seven.  They arrested a three-game winless run with a victory last time out over Seoul E-Land, with a much more accomplished performance than of late.  This Suwon side has no injuries to worry about and have no players suspended for the clash.  This will be a huge test for manager Kim Do-hyun.  It is coming into the home stretch now in K League 2.  Can Suwon continue to be in and around the upper end of the table as the chasing pack are certainly gaining momentum?  Their opposition on Saturday evening is 100 percent in that bracket, gunning for promotion back to K League 1.

What To Watch

The creativity and directness of Gyeongnam's wingers Baek Sung-dong and Hwang Il-soo.

Hwang Il-soo (left) embraces Baek Sung-dong (center) after the second goal in the recent win over Chungnam Asan

In recent months the form of Baek and Hwang has been quite simply brilliant at times.  Both players could make a difference in a K League 1 outfit.  Hwang was out for six weeks early in the season and his presence was sorely missed.  Baek was fluttering in and out of games too much and was going missing when the game was getting tough.  Both these players are huge confidence players and at this present time, both are playing with it in abundance.  It's their energy levels throughout the games that have the opposition players scared until the game is over.  In Gyeongnam's last four matches, every one of the goals has come in the second half.  Both wingers have been heavily involved in all the goals that were scored.  Baek has tallied six goals this season to date and Hwang has four.  Their overall contribution to the squad as a whole is vital to how the team operates.  As a pair they are extremely vocal on the pitch and are always helping the younger players in and around the squad.  If Suwon is to get anything from the clash this weekend they must find a method to keep Baek Sung-dong and Hwang Il-soo quiet.  It is going to be a fascinating battle to watch unfold.

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This is a very tough one to call.  The hosts go into the clash in brilliant form, winning four straight games and not conceding a goal in their last three.  The striking duo for Suwon can be lethal at times and will test the Reds back four who are missing their first choice right back.  I can see this game ending in a high scoring entertaining draw.

Predicted score: Gyeongnam FC 2-2 Suwon FC

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