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Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Gyeongnam FC

Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Gyeongnam FC
Draw specialists Jeonnam Dragons host an improving Gyeongnam FC outfit on Saturday evening.  The home side will be hoping to move above the visitors, as just a point separates the two teams in the table.  The Dragons put in a spirited display last time out against high-flying Suwon FC missing out on all three points, conceding a last minute equalizer.  The Reds' on the other hand were held at home by league leaders Jeju United in a thrilling encounter.  With both these teams in play-off contention coming into the business end of the campaign, this game will be a tense and close affair.  KLU's Gyeongnam FC columnist James Edrupt previews the clash.

Match: Jeonnam Dragons vs Gyeongnam FC.
Venue: Gwangyang Stadium.  Gwangyang.
Kick off: Saturday, September 12th, 2020;  18:30 (KST)

Last Time Out

Suwon FC 2-2 Jeonnam Dragons

The Dragons picked up what could be a valuable point in the grand scheme of things last weekend against a ten-man Suwon FC outfit.

The visitors started on the front foot with Suwon goalkeeper Park Bae-jong having to make two smart saves early on from Brazilian youngster Hernades and wing back Choi Hyo-jin.  Their pressure finally paid off after ten minutes through the unlikely source of center-half Hwang Ki-wook.  He guided a beautiful header just inside the far post from a corner swung in well by play-maker Lim Chang-kyoun.  This spurred the home side on and the pressure told when fellow Brazilian Marlone opened his account for the season on 37 minutes with a low drive into the far corner after the ball was pulled back to him on the edge of the area by winger Yoo Ju-an.

The second half started well with both teams attacking at will and the defenses, on the whole, were coming out on top.  The game throughout was littered with fouls and the referee dished out ten yellow cards and a red card for the hosts center back Cho Yoo-min after two yellow card offenses on the 76th-minute mark.  The man advantage paid dividends with just six minutes remaining the aforementioned Hwang Ki-wook stayed up in the area from an un-cleared free-kick and he prodded the ball home at the far post to put the visitors in front.

Suwon laid siege to the Jeonnam goal and they got their reward with virtually the last kick of the game through center half Jang Yoon-young.  He scored his first goal of the season, heading home from the penalty spot after an error in judgment from Park Jun-hyuk.  Park came out to claim the ball from the corner and got nowhere near it.  Jang had the easy task of heading the ball into an open goal to rescue a point for Suwon.

Suwon FC remains in second place in K League 2 on 33 points just two points behind leaders Jeju United.  Jeonnam Dragons remain in sixth on 25 points just a point out of the play-off positions behind Seoul-E Land and Gyeongnam FC respectively.

Gyeongnam FC 3-3 Jeju United

If there is a team in K League 2 you don't want to leave the stadium early from its Gyeongnam.  In yet another thriller in Changwon, a last gasp Negueba goal meant the points had to be shared against league-leaders Jeju United.

In a rain-sodden affair, Jeju United came out of the blocks very well and their early dominance told with an opening goal as early as the 5th minute through forward Joo Min-kyu.  The well-traveled striker lifted the ball over the advancing Hwang Sung-min to bring his goal tally for the season to six.   The visitors were handling the tricky and wet conditions far better than the hosts and were really on the front foot.  Then in the 37th minute, a rare Gyeongnam attack saw winger Hwang Il-soo break down the left-hand side of the box and his low pulled back cross was met by the on-rushing midfielder Han Ji-ho.  He expertly slid the ball home from just inside the area to draw matters level.

Shortly after the re-start on 48 minutes, the Reds' were to get their noses back in front.  It came through Dutchman Luc Castaignos for just his second goal of the campaign.  A deep Jang Hyuk-jin corner was headed back across goal from Castaignos, the ball ricocheted back to him in a flash, he first time smashed the ball towards the goal through a melee of players and it crept in off the post.

Questions will be asked thereafter in the Gyeongnam camp how they conceded the next two goals from Jeju United with such ease.  Both goals were of similar ilk and were avoidable as well.  The equalizer came from substitute Jin Seong-uk making his debut this season after returning from doing his military duty with Sangju Sangmu.  The burly striker timed his run to perfection and planted a firm header into the net on 71 minutes.  Goalkeeper Hwang Sung-min came out to punch the ball away and got nowhere near it.  The islanders were to score again with just ten minutes remaining through central defender Gwon Han-jin.  A deep corner kick was swung in and Gwon unmarked just headed the ball back into the danger area.  The ball looped into the far corner of the net leaving the Gyeongnam players looking around at each other in disbelief.

But the drama was not over yet when the hosts were awarded a spot-kick when winger Ko Kyung-min burst into the box and was bundled over as he attempted to flick the ball on.  Negueba stepped up and his weak effort was saved by Oh Seung-hoon who could only parry the ball straight back into the Brazilians path and he smashed home the late equalizer.

Gyeongnam as a result of the late draw remains in the playoff positions in 4th on 26 points.  Jeju United remain in first on 35 points just two points ahead of the chasing pack, lead by Suwon FC.

Previous Meetings

The two sides have met thirty-one times in total.  Jeonnam hold the advantage winning fourteen times, eight have finished in draws and Gyeongnam have won nine times.

Already this campaign they have clashed three times.  Twice in the league and once in the Korean FA cup.  The opening round of the season saw Jeonnam travel to Changwon.  It finished in a drab goal less draw.  They were drawn against each other in the cup.  A game in which the the dragons ran out easy 4-0 victors.  All the goals came after the interval.  The most recent of games finished 1-1 in Gwangyang.  Luc Castaignos opened the scoring for Gyeongnam after 24 minutes with Jeonnam leveling matters in the 63rd minute through new summer signing Hernades.  The Dragons are unbeaten against the Reds' in four matches.

Team News

Baek Sung-dong is hoping to be declared fit for the clash on Saturday

The visitors go into the game sweating on the fitness of key midfielder Baek Sung-dong.  The diminutive playmaker has missed the last two games through injury.  Manager Seol Ki-hyeon can recall key operators Jang Hyuk on loan from Jeonbuk in the center of the park and defender Bae Seong-jin.  They both missed the game against Jeju United through suspension after accumulating five yellow cards.  

It was a welcome sight seeing Choi Jun back at right wing-back and he is set to maintain his place in the starting eleven.  On loan signing from Busan I Park, Han Ji-ho put in a much more assured performance against Jeju and will be hoping to keep his place on the left-hand side in midfield.  The rest of the squad is fit and healthy with no suspensions affecting the manager.

The Adversary

Brazilian Hernades has showed some flashes of brilliance since signing for the Dragons this summer

Jeonnam Dragons come into the clash in good form, unbeaten in four games.  Granted three of those have ended in draws but the level of their performances has improved as the season has gone on.  They have only lost three times all campaign and have the best defensive record in the division only conceding thirteen.  They do struggle to score though, with the Dragons only netting nineteen all season.  They have a very solid base in defense with the key pairing of Kim Ju-won and the experienced Kwak Kwang-Seon playing the majority of the matches.  Between the sticks, Park Jun-hyuk has been a revelation this campaign marshaling his defense very well.  The experienced right-back Choi Hyo-jin has been key to how the attacks start from the back with his willingness to overlap the winger in front of him.  

Brazilian youngster Hernades will be hoping to keep his place in the starting eleven, he was replaced late on by Norwegian Julian Kristoffersen against Suwon last time out.  The lofty striker was heavily involved in the second goal scored against Suwon FC.  He may be hoping for a starting berth this Saturday, as Gyeongnam has looked a bit susceptible from set-pieces in recent weeks.  Jeonnam still has left back Oleg Zoteev out after he picked up a nasty-looking injury against Gyeongnam in late July.  Despite picked up seven yellow cards in the last game the Dragons have no suspensions heading into the clash.

Who To Watch 

Negueba has been a great asset from the bench for manager Seol Ki-hyeon

Negueba has been in brilliant form coming off the bench in recent weeks scoring a goal apiece in his last two games.  Manager Seol Ki-hyeon has started  him earlier in the season but his displays flattered to deceive on the whole and he was always substituted around the 60th-minute mark.  With the tricky winger now coming off the bench in the latter stages of matches, he is striking fear into tiring defenses.  It is a ploy Seol has been using for some weeks now and it's been successful.  

Jeonnam's defense is very strong and the Brazilian could be key in unlocking that backline on Saturday as the game comes into the last 15 minutes.  His directness and willingness to run at defenders vital as the game is winding down.  Negueba had a very serious ACL knee injury in the middle of last season and it's taken him longer than expected to get back match fit.  He appears to be showing no ill effects from the injury at present.  Expect the pacey midfielder to be an influence this Saturday.

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This will be a very close encounter.  Both Jeonnam and Gyeongnam are playing some nice football at the moment, so expect there to be numerous chances created.  The Dragons are very resolute in defense, however, Gyeongnam score plenty of goals and never know when to give up.

Predicted score: Jeonnam Dragons 2-2 Gyeongnam FC.

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