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Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Jeju United

Gyeongnam FC welcome table-toppers Jeju United to Changwon on Saturday evening knowing they'll be in for a tense tussle.  The Islanders come into the clash unbeaten in six and recently leapfrogged Suwon FC to lead all in K League 2.  The hosts lost their first game in six themselves last time out, so will be looking to get their promotion push back on track sooner rather than later.  Jeju on the other hand will be looking to cement themselves at the summit and bring all three points back to the island.  KLU's Gyeongnam FC columnist James Edrupt  previews the match.


Match: Gyeongnam FC vs Jeju United.
Venue: Changwon Football Center.  Changwon.
Kick off: September 5th, Saturday, 2020; 18:00 (KST)

Last Time Out

Gyeongnam FC 2-3 Suwon FC

North Korean striker An Byeon-jun was to be the match-winner deep into stoppage time as the Gyeonggi-do based side won a thriller in Changwon.

This game from the first whistle was to be a very competitive contest.  It was two sides in great form both playing at the top of their game.  It was Suwon who struck first blood just after the half-hour mark through Japanese forward Ishida.  He was first to react from two yards out after a cross into the box was not cleared by the hosts.  To the Reds' credit, the goal didn't hurt their confidence at all, if anything it spurred them on to pose more questions on the visitors.  The pressure was to be rewarded on thirty-seven minutes when in form Hwang Il-soo received a lofted ball onto the edge of the area from Han Ji-ho.  The winger took a touch and with an angled low drive beat Park Bae-jong at his near post.

The second half started in the same form as the first, with both teams playing some lovely attacking football.  The game sprung into life on the sixty-eighth-minute mark when the visitors regained the advantage through the unlikely source of defensive midfielder Kim Geon-ung.  The former Jeonnam Dragons man hit a daisy-cutter into the far corner of the net for only his third ever career goal.  They will be questions asked by manager Seol Ki-hyeon how Kim was given so much time and space to pick his spot in such a dangerous area.

However, there was more drama to come when substitute Negueba acrobatically leveled the contest with just ten minutes remaining.  A header back across goal from fellow substitute Ko Kyung-min bounced up perfectly for the Brazilian to show great athleticism and over-head the ball into the net.  Then as the match entered the fifth minute of injury time, Suwon right full-back Lee Ji-hun got free down the right-hand side of the box and his inch-perfect cross swung onto the head of An Byeon-jun about six yards out, who couldn't miss.  A breath-taking finale to a quite fantastic game.  Suwon cement their position in second on 32 points, whilst Gyeongnam despite the loss remain in fourth on 25 points respectively.



Jeju United 3-1 FC Anyang

The islanders furthered their grip on the top of K League 2 on Saturday night with a routine victory over struggling FC Anyang in Seogwipo.

In truth, FC Anyang will feel slightly hard done by after seeing two chances expertly saved by the hosts' goalkeeper Oh Seung-hoon.  The second save in particular was a brilliant palm away from a free header in the area.  The league leaders slowly got into the game and took the lead just as half time was approaching through 20-year-old Lee Dong-ryul.  It was a lovely composed finish as the striker ran onto an inch-perfect through ball from strike partner Joo Min-kyu to finish well.

Just eleven minutes after the break and the visitors leveled matters through a great angled drive into the right-hand corner through attacking midfielder Kwon Young-hyun.  It was the well-traveled wingers third strike of the campaign.  FC Anyang's joy was to turn to despair just two minutes later as Lee again doubled his tally in the game.  Running off the shoulder of the defender, he slipped the ball under the advancing Yang Dong-won in the visitors' goal to regain the lead for the islanders.  Then to put the icing on the cake Joo Min-kyu scored a third in stoppage time finishing off a move knocking home at the far post.  The striker was set up perfectly by substitute Ryu Seung-woo and he had the simple task of slotting home from eight yards out.  Jeju United after the victory remains in first place on 34 points, two points ahead of nearest challengers Suwon FC.  FC Anyang after the loss stay in eighth on 17 points.


Previous Meetings

The two sides have a long-dated history in playing in some epic contests over the years.  They have faced each other 37 times in total.  Gyeongnam holds the slight advantage, winning twelve.  Jeju United has won ten times and there have been fifteen draws.

They faced off earlier this campaign on the Island with the game ending in a 1-1 draw.  Jeju took the lead as early as the 9th minute through leading club goalscorer Kong Min-hyun.  The visitors drew level just seven minutes later through experienced center-forward Park Gi-dong heading home at the back post.  It was a game littered with numerous chances but no more goals were scored in the clash.  The hosts' striker Joo Min-kyu the main culprit, missing a spot-kick right on the stroke of half-time.


Team News


Cultured center-half Bae Seung-jin #4 is suspended for the clash

Gyeongnam goes into the clash despite the loss to Suwon FC in a buoyant mood.  It was only their first loss in six games.  They welcome back Choi Jun at right-back from a one-game suspension.  The Reds' missed his lung-bursting overlapping runs last time out.  A last-minute scratch from the team sheet against Suwon was influential winger Baek Sung-dong.  There are high hopes he will have recovered from the slight knock to start the clash.

The hosts must do without the ever-improving center half Bae Seung-jin who has accumulated five yellows cards.  He must serve a one-game suspension.  Loan signing from Jeonbuk, Jang Hyuk will also be absent also picking up his fifth yellow card against Suwon last weekend.  Australian Nick Ansell or off-season signing Kim Kyung-min will hope to fill in as a result at center-half.  There is a chance manager Seol Ki-hyeon may revert to regular shot-stopper Son Jung-hyun now he is fully recovered from a knee problem.  His deputy Hwang Sung-min has performed admirably in previous games, but he did show some signs of weakness last weekend.  The rest of the squad is fit and healthy with no further suspensions.

20-year-old Lee Dong-ryul has been in superb form for the islanders in recent weeks


For Jeju, youngster Lee Dong-ryul had a career match against Anyang, scoring two goals, making it three in his past two matches.  His speed down the right side has become a major asset in Jeju’s attack in recent matches, and the thought is that is playing time will likely increase after a string of good performances.

He was named the MVP of Round 17 for his performance, and was named to the Best XI as a result, along with goalkeeper Oh Seung-hoon, midfielder Kim Young-wook and forward Joo Min-kyu, who finally found the score sheet for the first time in three months.

Kang Yoon-sung returns from suspension after missing out against Anyang due to card accumulation.  The rest of the squad is available for selection.




The Adversary

Following six matches unbeaten in August (four wins and two draws) Nam Ki-il was named Manager of the Month for August, as the islanders have now taken over top spot in K League 2.  In particular, they have scored ten goals in their past three matches, thanks to wins over Ansan Greeners, Bucheon FC 1995 and FC Anyang.

The team is in great form at the right time in the season as clubs are primed for the  run-in, but there is still a lot of work to do for the islanders to stay where they are as this will be the first of two away trips to Changwon.  They also have to contend with a visit from Daejeon Hana Citizen, a team which has already beaten them twice in 2020 on September 13, away trips to Bucheon and Jeonnam to finish off the month as well as a visit from Suwon FC on October 24, so there are still quite a few difficult matches ahead on the schedule.

Joo Min-kyu in particular was relieved following the match against Anyang thanks to his late goal.

“I haven’t been able to score goals for a long time,” he said after the match.  “I thought it might end with the same result [today], but I just kept going until the final whistle.  I think it’s a gift that the team has continued to trust me.  The manager gives full support to the players. It’s my job to score goals and I will do my best to help the team get promoted to the first division,” he stated.

Nam Ki-il also reflected on Joo’s improved form in recent weeks.

“One of the key takeaways from the match against Anyang is the fact that Joo Min-kyu scored for us.  It was difficult for me for a while, to see him struggling, but I managed not to allow it to affect how the rest of the team played in the meantime.  It resulted in a goal for him in the last match, and if he keeps improving his performances, we can be an even better team,” he said.

What To Watch

The return of Choi Jun at right wing back for Gyeongnam

Choi Jun has put in some dazzling displays this campaign
It will be a welcome sight for the Gyeongnam fans to see Choi Jun in the starting eleven this weekend against high flyers Jeju United.  His willingness to run at players and involve himself in the final third is a joy to behold.  At only 21-years-old he plays football way beyond his years.  He is vital to the way Seol Ki-hyeons' men operate in the transition from defense to attack in a quick and direct style of football.  He is tenacious in the tackle and his spacial awareness in and around the box for one so young is brilliant.

He will have his hands full on the weekend as Jeju can be free-scoring and have goals from all areas of the pitch.  He has drummed up a great partnership with both Baek Sung-dong and Hwang Il-soo on either flank.  Both wingers tend to switch sides during matches, so his versatility to adapt to their game has been for all to see.  He was sorely missed last Saturday against Suwon.  One thing he has to cut out of his game is the number of fouls he concedes.  His disciplinary record since joining on loan from Ulsan needs improvement.  He has made just eight appearances and has already been booked five times.



FNR


Prediction

This game will be a tight one from start to finish.  It is the game of the weekend in K League 2, so a lot of eyes will be on this clash.  Both sides possess players that are in great form and playing to their full capabilities.   Gyeongnam lost at home last time out but is generally strong when playing on home turf.  Jeju travel to Changwon with confidence running sky-high throughout their squad and they have weapons all over the pitch to hurt the hosts.

Predicted score: Gyeongnam FC 1-1 Jeju United


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