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Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Ansan Greeners

Promotion candidates Gyeongnam FC welcome last placed Ansan Greeners to the Changwon Football Center on Saturday evening.  The visitors despite propping up the table did have a great win last time out with a narrow 1-0 win over fellow strugglers FC Anyang.  The hosts on the other hand, picked up a good point away from home against Jeonnam Dragons.  As we enter the business end of the season with just eight games remaining which side will come out on top this weekend.  KLU's Gyeongnam FC columnist James Edrupt previews this one.

Match: Gyeongnam FC vs Ansan Greeners.
Venue: Changwon Football Center.  Changwon.
Kick off: Saturday, September 19th, 2020; 18:30 (KST)

Last Time Out

Jeonnam Dragons 2-2 Gyeongnam FC

A brace of spot-kicks from winger Baek Sung-dong rescued a point for the Changwon based outfit last weekend in Gwangyang.

The first half was a rather cagey affair with both teams looking rather lackluster trying to work each other out.  It was the Reds' however that struck first through the aforementioned Baek Sung-dong from the penalty spot just before the half an hour mark.  Baek himself was brought down in the area and he calmly slotted it home.

Just four minutes later the hosts were to draw level through a spot-kick of their own.  The visitors' defender Bae Seung-jin making a welcome return from suspension stuck out an arm and the ball struck it through a sea of players.  After a quick VAR check, it was deemed the correct decision.  Former Gangwon striker Kim Hyeon-uk rammed home the penalty kick to level matters heading into half-time.

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first with defenses dominating the attackers.  Jeonnam made a tactical change bringing on Norwegian striker Julian Kristoffsen just ten minutes into the half.  It started to pay dividends, with the tall center forward dominating in and around the area with balls lofted into the box.  Julian put the Dragons 2-1 to the good on 75 minutes when he was first to react to a save from the visitors' goalkeeper Son Jung-hyun, toe-poking the ball over the line.

However, the drama wasn't over yet when Gyeongnam chasing the equalizer threw men forward and as the ball was put across the six-yard box, a sliding Jeonnam defender used his arm to stop the ball going over his body.  Again after a lengthy VAR check, the penalty was awarded.  Baek Sung-dong stepped up again and sent Park Jung-hyuk the wrong way to take home a share of the spoils.

Jeonnam after the draw remains in 5th place on 26 points just one point behind Gyeongnam FC who remain in 4th on 27 points respectively.

Ansan Greeners 1-0 FC Anyang

In the "line 4 derby" as it's known, it was the Greeners who came out on top through the unlikely source of former Daegu defender Lee Jun-hee for only his 5th ever professional career goal.

The game started well with the host on the front foot.  They were inches away from taking the lead as early as the 3rd minute when the ball broke to the exciting young striker Choi Geon-joo, but his left-footed effort struck the near post and away for a goal-kick.  FC Anyang was committing men forward and just a minute later they should have found the net themselves.  Brazilian Nilson joined the attack and found himself with just the keeper to beat, his tame effort was easily smothered by Kim Sun-woo in the Greeners net.

Into the second half and the goal that had been coming finally came in the 55th minute through Lee Jun-hee.  From a corner swung into the box towering defender Lee In-jae nodded the ball back into the danger area.  Brazilian substitute Felipe helped the ball on, and Lee was first to react, hooked the ball into the net.

The visitors' task was made even harder when defender Kim Dong-su was given his marching orders for two bookable offenses after 66 minutes.  The hosts were now on the front foot and were always looking to double their lead with the one-man advantage.  However, they couldn't add to their tally and in the end, a narrow win was all that was needed over their lowly rivals.

Despite the victory, Ansan Greeners remain in 10th in the league on 17 points.  FC Anyang is unmoved in 7th on 20 points respectively.

Previous Meetings

The two sides have clashed just six times in total.  Gyeongnam has a slight advantage winning three times, two have ended in a draw and The Greeners picking up a solitary win back in 2017 through a last minute own goal from goalkeeper Lee Jun-hee.

They have faced each other twice this campaign to date.  Gyeongnam has picked up four points from the two fixtures.  A narrow 2-1 home victory in mid-June through goals from Baek Sung-dong and a late Park Gi-dong winner. was followed up by a drab goalless draw in the Wa Stadium just a month later.  Gyeongnam in general like scoring against the Green Wolves, with them bagging 11 goals in the six games they've competed against each other to date.

Team News

Baek Sung-dong marked his return to the side with a brace

Manager Seol Ki-hyeon has stated after the Jeonnam game that he is now really happy with his team's chemistry and that his team has become stable as the season draws to an end.  He states, "Jeonnam is a team that plays a defensive game, we are an aggressive team so it wasn't an easy game for us.  It's important for us to keep the mood in the camp strong.  Some teams were good at the beginning of the season, others were bad.  We were I felt in the middle of a good and bad team.  Now we are turning into a good one.  We have been showing a lot more confidence of late.  I am fully aware that we need to improve our defending from set-pieces.  But we will work on this aspect in training before the home match this Saturday," he said.

On the injury front, the Reds' should have striker Luc Castaignos back for the game after he sat out last weekend with a slight injury concern.  Jeonbuk loanee, Jang Hyuk was an unknown absentee last time out and it's felt he was just being rested for the next few important fixtures coming up.  Baek Sung-dong was a welcome sight back on the team sheet after missing the last two games with a knock.  After his brace, he'll be looking to kick on as the season progresses.  The Changwon based side have no injuries or suspensions to worry about and go into the clash in a buoyant mood.

The Adversary

Ansan celebrate after going 1 up against FC Anyang last Sunday

In truth, Ansan Greeners have had a season to forget in 2020.  Granted they did pick up their fourth win of the season last Sunday, but on the whole, it's been a season they won't want to remember too fondly.  Scoring goals has been their obvious Achilles heel all campaign.  Only eleven goals have been scored in nineteen games, quite a shocking statistic.  A plus point is their defense on the whole is quite resolute, only conceding twenty-three, which is the best in and around the clubs that are near the bottom of K League 2. 

They will be relying heavily on Brazilian striker Felipe Augusto this Saturday.  The 6-foot-five-inch target man will be the main focal point as manager Kim Gil-sik will know that Gyeongnam are susceptible at the moment on set-pieces.  It will be a good battle to watch unfold this Saturday evening.  The Green Wolves did show some promise against FC Anyang and will be hoping to continue their mini upturn in form in Changwon this weekend.

What To Watch

Patience will be the key for Gyeongnam on Saturday evening.  The Green Wolves will be lumping balls into the six-yard box at every opportunity in an attempt to gain an advantage in the air.  The hosts have been out of sorts in terms of defending from set plays of late.  This was highlighted in the recent home clash with league leaders Jeju United.  The Islanders scored two of their three goals from headers from corner kicks.  Ansan have height in their ranks to hurt the Reds'.

Gyeongnam tends to score a large majority of their goals in the second half of matches.  They have a very fit squad that are currently gelling just at the right time.  With a nice set of fixtures on paper heading into October, manager Seol Ki-hyeon will be demanding three points this weekend.

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This on paper is a home win all over looking at the league positions.  Ansan will pose the Reds' some issues with their height advantage.  It will be a close encounter as both fixtures earlier on the season have proven, and I don't see this one being any different.  Gyeongnam however will have too much quality all over the pitch for the visitors and should see this one home.

Predicted score- Gyeongnam FC 2-0 Ansan Greeners

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