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Preview: Gwangju FC vs Sangju Sangmu

 


Still looking for a first home league win since June, Gwangju are looking to make an impression on the top six with a win over Sangju Sangmu. Kim Tae-wan's visitors have kept two clean sheets against the Yellows this season, Peter Hampshire looks at whether Gwangju can claim their first points since the split.

Last Time Out

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 4-1 Gwangju FC

Jeonbuk continued to put pressure on league leaders Ulsan Hyundai with a comfortable victory over Park Jin-seop's side. Son Jun-ho netted as early as four minutes before Takahiro Kunimoto doubled the advantage before the break. Kim Bo-kyung sealed the victory around the hour mark with Kim Jeong-hwan bagging his second goal in nine games this season as a consolation. There was still time for potential 'Comeback Player of the Year' Han Kyo-won to put the gloss on the win in stoppage time with a goal that Lee Jin-hyung should have done better with.



Sangju Sangmu 2-1 Daegu FC

An Tae-hyun and a Kim Jae-woo own goal put Sangju in a commanding position at the break in their final ever home game as a Sangju-based outfit. As many teams have found out to their detriment this season, the military defence could not withstand the assault of Cesinha who made things interesting with a curled finish with ten minutes remaining. However, Sangju held out to likely seal a fourth-placed finish.



Previous Meetings

With both city's having hosted Korea's military side at times in Korean football history, it is quite fitting that Sangju should travel to Gwangju in the penultimate game before their transition to Gimcheon. Neutrals will be hoping that this weekend's game produces a better spectacle than both of the previous encounters with Sangju running out 1-0 winners on both occasions this season. Jeong Jae-hee struck in stoppage time last month to condemn the Yellows to another disappointment at home, while Kang Sang-woo's early goal proved the difference in May. Gwangju's only victory in this fixture since 2016 was handed to them by a man now plying his trade for Kim Tae-wan's side, winger Song Seung-min.

Song Seung-min in action earlier this season.


Team News

Park Jeong-soo picked up one too many bookings in defeat at Jeonbuk so will sit out through suspension. He is likely to be replaced in the middle of the park by Yeo Bong-hun or Jeong Jun-yeon, who has proven his versatility and usefulness in recent weeks. Kim Tae-wan will also be unable to call upon a midfielder with last weekend's goal scorer An Tae-hyun shown yellow last time out and subsequently missing out featuring in Jeollanamdo. 

What To Watch

Can Gwangju make a mark on the top six?

Falling to consecutive 1-0 home defeats against Daegu and Sunday's opponents Sangju, the Yellows will be keen to claim the elusive first win at their new stadium. Keen not to have that pressure hanging over them into next season, it provides an extra incentive for Gwangju. Park Jin-seop has undoubtedly done a fantastic job this season achieving a top-six finish but with fans allowed to enter the ground again this weekend it would be great to finish the season in style. Losing all three games since the split against top opposition and conceding 10 goals in the process, Park will be focusing on a defence that he has been forced to tinker with in recent games. With Ulsan away on the final day, Sunday's game looks like the best opportunity to add to their current 25-point haul from 25 games.

Does Kim Tae-wan deserve manager of the year?

While Sangju endured a three-game losing streak against the league's top three sides in their last three games, Kim Tae-wan's legendary spell at Sangju has been seriously impressive this season considering the side's impending relegation due to factors beyond his control. Motivation has clearly not waned in his players who have also had to cope with the reshuffle of their pack once more as players returned to their parent clubs. Losing such key men as Kang Sang-woo may have weakened their attacking prowess out wide but a solid spine remains with Kwon Kyung-won organising things at the back. Unable to deal in the transfer market, Kim has done a remarkable job with the tools at his disposal and while there are better performing teams in the league, those teams have the fortune of freedom of investment and flexibility not afforded to Sangju.

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Prediction - Gwangju FC 1-0 Sangju Sangmu

Fans in the stadium may have an impact this weekend with not much other than pride at stake. While Park Jin-seop has been forced to be experimental with his team selections of late, his side's desire to claim that victory to christen their new home should push them over the line. 

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