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Preview: Pohang Steelers Vs. Gwangju FC

After their six-game unbeaten league run came to a halt last weekend, Pohang Steelers return to the Steel Yard to take on Gwangju FC on Saturday, August 8. Can Pohang deliver an immediate response against an inconsistent Gwangju side? Pohang Steelers columnist Shibajee Das previews the match. 

Last Time Out

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2-1 Pohang Steelers

The Steelers' six-game unbeaten streak in the league finally came to an end last weekend. Pohang was without captain and defensive midfielder Choi Young-jun, whereas Jeonbuk had to do without the services of Lee Soo-bin. The duo had swapped clubs on a loan deal and therefore, was ineligible to face their parent clubs. It was an entertaining start to the contest, with both teams exchanging blows, however, Jeonbuk left-back Kim Jin-su came closest to breaking the deadlock when his well-struck free-kick crashed against the crossbar. The complexion of the match completely changed when Manuel Palacios' high boot struck the face of Choi Bo-kyung and the Colombian was sent off for dangerous play.

The second half started the same way as the first half had ended, with Jeonbuk having much of the ball against 10-men Pohang. However, it was the visitors who went in front in the 55th minute, when a Kwon Wan-kyu cut back found Song Min-kyu, and the latter swept the ball into the net through the legs of the keeper. The lead was short-lived as new signing Modou Barrow came off the bench to provide a brilliant cross for Son Jun-ho to head home and restore parity for the hosts. And Jeonbuk made most of their numerical advantage when a brilliant one-touch interplay opened up the Pohang defence and Kim Bo-kyung applied the finishing touch with a neat finish, to end the Steelers' recent impressive run.

Incheon United 1-3 Gwangju FC

Bottom club Incheon welcomed newly-promoted Gwangju to the Incheon Football Stadium. The visitors started brightly putting the ball in the back of the net in the 3rd minute, only for it to be chalked off due to offside. Another great chance went begging when Felipe Silva failed to guide the ball into an empty net in the 6th minute of the contest. The miss proved costly when Costa Rican midfielder Elias Aguilar put Incheon in front, courtesy of a rasping long-range drive in the 23rd minute.

Gwangju started the second half with more purpose and Eom Won-sang drew them level when he found the bottom right corner from the edge of the box in the 73rd minute. After this, Incheon went all out in attack searching for the elusive win, but Gwangju hit them on the counter when Eom scored his second of the night in the 87th minute. The points were wrapped up for the visitors in stoppage time by Silva, who atoned for his earlier miss with a stunning long-range strike. It turned out to be Gwangju's first league win since mid-June. 

Previous Meetings

Pohang and Gwangju have faced each other 18 times in total, with Pohang having a near-flawless record winning 12 matches, drawing 5 and suffering just one defeat.

The last match between these two teams took place on 26th June in the reverse fixture in the league this season. Pohang registered a comfortable 2-0 victory that day, with two of their in-form players, Manuel Palacios and Song Min-kyu getting on the score sheet.

Team News

Choi Young-jun is expected to return to the starting lineup for Pohang. However, Kim Gi-dong will be without the services of the influential Manuel Palacios, after he picked up a red card last weekend. Shim Dong-woon could be reinstated into the starting lineup, as is Nam Joon-jae who is still awaiting his first league start. Serbian midfield maestro Aleksandar Palosevic continues his stake for a claim in the starting berth, having come off the bench in the last couple of matches, after recovering from the injury he suffered earlier in the campaign.

As for Gwangju, Uzbek international defender Rustam Ashurmatov is expected to return to the lineup. Park Jin-seob will probably keep the front three of Eom Won-sang, Felipe Silva and Willyan Barbosa intact, with Costa Rican forward Marco Urena on the bench. 

The Adversary

Gwangju FC won promotion to the K League 1 after winning the second division title in impressive fashion last season. It hasn't been an easy ride for the Griffins, picking up just four wins from their opening fourteen games.

The standout performer for Gwangju FC this season has been 28-year-old Brazilian, Felipe Silva. The lanky forward has scored seven goals this season. Young striker Um Won-sang will also be in buoyant mood having netted a brace last weekend. Experienced midfielders Park Jeong-soo and Yeo Reum have played crucial roles in the middle of the park.

What To Watch

Can Kim Gi-dong's boys bounce back from last week's disappointment?

Last week, Pohang were hoping for a positive outcome against defending champions Jeonbuk. But an unfortunate first-half red card to Manuel Palacios tilted the match in Jeonbuk's favour and the Steelers ultimately succumbed to defeat. It was the perfect opportunity for Pohang to show how far they had come under the tutelage of Kim Gi-dong. But one moment ruined their entire match. That loss coupled with results elsewhere meant Pohang dropped to fifth in the league standings.

However, the Steelers must not let their heads drop and should continue playing the attractive brand of football, that they have displayed on so many occasions this season. Pohang fans continue to be entertained, with their team finding the back of the net regularly. With an FA Cup semi-finals spot secured, the Steelers will not have to worry about any mid-week exertions for quite some time now and can fully focus on the league. Manager Kim will hope that his team resume their surge towards the upper echelons of the league table.



Even though Gwangju's forwards found their scoring touch in their previous match, the Griffins will have their work cut out against a formidable Pohang attack. It could turn out to be an entertaining end-to-end contest. Nevertheless, even if Gwangju manage to find the back of the net, Pohang should be able to outscore their opponents and pick up a morale-boosting victory, ahead of the East Coast derby the following weekend.

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