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Preview: Gwangju FC vs Sangju Sangmu


Gwangju face yet another top side in Sangju Sangmu under the lights still looking for a first win in their new home. The Yellows have two games remaining before the split and can't afford to lose either should they fulfill top six ambitions. 

Last Time Out

Gwangju FC 3-3 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

A fourth consecutive game against a side currently in the top half of the K League 1 table, Gwangju pushed champions Jeonbuk all the way and were unlucky not to come away with all three points. With key man Willyan suspended and Felipe dropped to the bench, Eom Won-sang gave Gwangju an early lead as he lobbed Song Bum-keun after four minutes.

Jeonbuk had put themselves ahead through an unfortunate Yeo Reum own goal but Hong Joon-ho leveled the scores on the stroke of half time from Lim Min-hyeok's free kick. Lim claimed a second assist on 58 minutes putting Eom through to score his brace, again demonstrating the youngster's electric pace. Gustavo equalised just minutes later for Jose Morais' side but Gwangju came closest to a winner with Felipe's header striking the base of the post in stoppage time.



Sangju Sangmu 0-0 Seongnam FC

There was less entertainment to be had in Sangju as the military side played their last home game before the split, travelling to Pohang on the coming weekend. A goalless draw here means that they sit just one point above the Steelers in the table.


Previous Meetings

As early as game week three Sangju taught Gwangju a tough lesson on their return to the top division. Starting off what has been a career year for the 26-year-old, Kang Sang-woo scored in the fifth minute and the Yellows were unable to find a way back into the match.

Gwangju's last victory over Sangju Sangmu came in Kim Tae-wan's side's last visit to Jeollanamdo with a goal scored by current Sangju man Song Seung-min under the guidance of Kim Hak-beom. With both cities representing the military side in Korea in recent history, there has only ever been one draw between these two sides under their current guises, coming in their first meeting in 2011.

Song Seung-min in action against current side Sangju Sangmu in 2017.

Team News

Due to return to face Seongnam on Sunday, Willyan serves the final game of his two-match suspension so remains unavailable for selection. Felipe's withdrawal from the starting XI will have come as a surprise to many with Kim Ju-gong deputising up front in his absence. Judging by the Brazilian striker's gentle warm-up on the pitch at half time it was a precautionary move following a strain, but Gwangju's talisman appeared his regular self on the pitch when summoned from the bench.

Lee Keun-ho started his first match for Sangju up front in the stalemate with Seongnam, while Moon Seon-min dropped to the bench. Oh Hyun-gyu returned as a substitute so could be in line for a recall having netted twice in just 140 minutes of action for his new club. After scoring and coming off in victory over Suwon Bluewings, Lee Sang-gi is expected to be replaced by either Bae Jae-woo once more or Woo Ju-sung.

What To Watch

Doo Hyeon seok's revival.

A key figure out wide for Park Jin-seop in K League 2 last term, Doo Hyeok-seok has found opportunities limited in the top tier thanks to the unstoppable rise of Eom Won-sang who has made himself one of the first names on the team sheet as the season has progressed. Arriving from Yonsei University for the start of the 2018 season, 24-year-old Doo didn't feature at all in June or July, yet has forced his way back into the reckoning and has not been on the losing side in his last seven appearances for the Yellows.

Surprisingly deployed as a central midfielder thanks to Yeo Reum's absence in Daegu, he remained there against Ulsan Hyundai and then reverted to his natural winger role to replace the suspended Willyan last time out. Doo has been influential in the last three games in particular for someone feeding off such scraps in terms of game time this season.



Are Sangju a different proposition on the road?

Third-placed Sangju have only won twice away from home in K League this season, with victories coming in consecutive weekends at Suwon and Seongnam in June. Those two victories also represent the side's only clean sheets on the road this season, conceding twice in each of their last three games on their travels. At Sangju Stadium meanwhile, Kim Tae-wan's men have kept six clean sheets in their last eight outings. Sangju still tend to dominate possession when playing away, completing over twice as many passes in Sangam as opposition FC Seoul, but are clearly more vulnerable to breakaways and balls into the box as was demonstrated by Kim Jin-su's brace of assists in their last defeat to Jeonbuk.


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Prediction - Gwangju FC 2-1 Sangju Sangmu

Gwangju were very impressive in their performance against Jeonbuk and looked like a side full of energy and intent on pushing for that sixth spot, which would put them in Asian Champions League contention. Kim Tae-wan meanwhile has been forced into a lot of tinkering in recent weeks and with a top half finish mathematically confirmed, his side also know that their final league standing is only a matter of pride.

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