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Preview: Suwon FC vs Jeju United



Suwon FC have slid to consecutive losses in recent weeks but still hold a very slim advantage atop the K League 2 standings.  Their competition on Sunday night, Jeju United, got back to winning ways last time out by defeating Chungnam Asan by a 2-1 margin.  With the win, the islanders have moved to within one point of the league lead, but they must be wary of a side not only who they beat earlier in the season, but also who are looking to snap out of their mini cold streak, which has seen them just once in their two losses.  Something will have to give when the two meet for the second time this weekend.  KLU's Branko Belan looks ahead to the match.

Match: Suwon FC vs Jeju United
Venue: Suwon Sports Complex
Kickoff: Sunday August 16th, 2020; 20:00 KST

Last Time Out

Bucheon 1995 FC 2-0 Suwon FC

Bucheon got themselves right back into the thick of the playoff conversation with a goal in each half to secure a much needed win at home after being kept off the scoresheet for three consecutive matches.  The first half offered little in the way of chances, but Suwon could have gone into the lead on 33 minutes, and likely should have but Masatoshi Ishida's sliding effort on the doorstep was skied over the bar.  Bucheon would take advantage on the next possession as Lee Hyeon-il was given far too much time and space to shoot from distance, and his attempt on goal found the bottom corner.

The hosts would double their lead eleven minutes into the second half when Cho S00-chul unleashed a screamer from well outside the area which kissed the inside of the goalpost on the way in.  Suwon looked to have pulled a goal back in the later stages of the match when Ishida's close header initially looked to have crossed the line, but VAR ruled the goal out.  Bucheon would hold out the rest of the way and moved up to fifth in the table with the victory.

Highlights



Jeju United 2-1 Chungnam Asan

Jeju United arrested a two match winless slide with a win against Chungnam Asan on Monday night.  Goals from Gong Min-hyun and Lim Dong-hyuk were enough to get the islanders over the line despite Armin Mujakic making things interesting in the late going with his third goal of the season inside the final five minutes of regulation.

Things did not open up for either side until the 35th minute when the islanders would edge in front after what had mostly been an uneventful match to that point.  The ball found Lim Deok-keun at the top of the area and his through ball found the feet of Gong, who waited a split second before sending Lee Ki-hyun the wrong way, his shot finding the bottom corner.

The same two players combined early in the second half, but Lim's shot on goal smacked the bar and the margin was kept at one for the time being.  Jeju would find a second goal through Lim Dong-hyuk, who played a one-two with Kang Yoon-sung, eventually smashing the ball into the net from close range.

The visitors refused to go quietly as Armin Mujakic got them back into the match with minutes remaining, heading home from a corner for his third of the season after a tiring Jeju back line had been caught flat-footed.  They kept up the pressure until the final whistle, as Park Se-jik had a chance to split the points with the final kick of the ball, but Oh Seung-hoon touched his scorcher just over the bar and the islanders were able to hang on for a very important three points.

Highlights



Previous Meetings

The two sides met once previously this season on Jeju, with Nam Ki-il's men taking the win by a slim 1-0 margin.  Kim Young-wook scored the only goal of the match in the fifteenth minute and from that point on, Jeju had to muster everything in defense to hold on to the result, as Suwon pressed forward in waves but ultimately could not find a way through.

Part of the reason could be attributed to the fact that of their nineteen shots in the match, only four were on target.  Suwon were in fact better in all statistical categories except for the one which mattered most - the scoreboard, so Jeju will have a lot of work on their hands if they want to stop the league leaders again, especially as they are looking to round back into form.


Team News

Despite having two of the league's leading scorers in An Byoung-jun and Masatoshi Ishida, Suwon have only scored one goal in their past two matches and when they met the islanders earlier this season, they were shut out.  In the match against Bucheon, they had a considerable edge in possession but only managed two shots on target.  The same was true in terms of possession against Ansan where they had six shots on target but in both matches, their passing efficiency was under 80 per cent.

This presents a bit of a conundrum, but not an unusual one.  Suwon have been a possession heavy team all season, but lately, it has not translated into goals for a side which has found the net already 28 times this season.  The only other team which comes close to their goal scoring efficiency at the moment is Daejeon Hana Citizen, who have scored 24 goals to this point; all other teams have scored under twenty.

For Suwon to be successful, they need to take their chances.  There is also the added motivation that their next win in the division will be their 100th, so that would be a milestone for them to shoot for.  The good news is that there are no suspensions in the side, and no injuries of note, so a full complement of players should be available.

Several of Jeju's players looked fatigued by the end of the match against Asan, and several had to leave the pitch due to severe muscle cramps.  Ahn Hyun-beom, Chung Woon and Lim Dong-hyuk all needed attention at different points during the second half, and their progress will be monitored throughout the week.  The islanders will also be without leading scorer Gong Min-hyun, who is suspended.  The rest of the squad should be in contention for selection.

The Adversary

The absence of Gong Min-hyun through suspension could be a key factor on Sunday night.  He leads the team with five goals this season.
The win against Asan got Jeju back on the winning track and back in contention for automatic promotion.  It is exactly what was needed in preparation for the second match against the league leaders.  Other teams have been throwing away points in recent weeks, so the need to capitalize on the mistakes of others was essential.

Nam Ki-il took positives from the performance last time out.

"Because the battle for position in the table is fierce, the players are under a lot of pressure.  It would have been nice if we were in a more comfortable position before starting the match.  It was disappointing to concede the late goal, but I think the players did well in the hot weather.  I'm also happy that we were able to win a match in front of our fans for the first time in awhile," he began.

"The synergy among the players is good right now.  Lim Dong-hyuk has become one of the distinguished players in the side recently since changing positions from defender to attacker.  The players are moving forward together with one mind and the same goal.  I am looking forward to the next match," he finished.

He also acknowledged that there is very little room for error especially with such a tight schedule in the coming weeks.  There is potential that some players may not recover in time for the weekend, but Nam is confident he will find the necessary solutions in the lead up to the match.

What to Watch

Weather could play a factor in the match on Sunday night as it is forecasted to be around 28 degrees Celsius, with an 80 per cent chance of thunderstorms.  That could make playing conditions particularly difficult, especially if the pitch gets water logged to a degree where moving the ball could become a problem.  If that is the case, then there is a good chance that injuries could occur, and if that indeed does happen, either side could lose a key player for a prolonged period of time.

The humidity over the next stretch of days will be high as well, so it will most likely impact the plaqyers' fitness on the pitch during the match.  Jeju suffered badly in the late stages of the match against Asan, and could once again this weekend if they do not take the necessary precautions in training as well as over the course of ninety minutes to ensure that they come away from the match unscathed.  It should impact both sets of players in a similar manner, and the heat is not expected to let up for the next little while, so results over the next month could be critical to how things shape out at the end of the season.

Prediction

This match is actually quite difficult to call, as Suwon have not looked good over the past couple of weeks and will be looking to get back amongst the goals.  That could be a problem for Jeju, who will more than likely come into the match with a few key players on the mend.  Both teams are virtually neck and neck in the standings, and Jeju have shown that they can shut down the high powered Suwon attack before.  That will certainly be one of the objectives come Sunday night.

With both teams struggling for their own reasons, a score draw would be the best expected result between them this time around.

Predicted Score: Suwon FC 1-1 Jeju United



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