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Preview: Jeju United vs Ansan Greeners


 
Jeju United are currently unbeaten in eleven matches in K League 2, the longest such streak in the division in 2020, and prepare to welcome Ansan Greeners to Seogwipo on Sunday afternoon.  The Green Wolves have lost their last two matches and currently occupy the foot of the table.  Can the islanders keep their run going and their chances for a title going?  KLU's Branko Belan looks ahead to the match.


Match: Jeju United vs Ansan Greeners
Venue: Jeju World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Sunday October 11th, 2020; 13:30 KST

Last Time Out

Jeju United 4-1 FC Anyang

The islanders picked up a very convincing victory at home last time out against FC Anyang.  Both teams started well in the early stages of the match, creating several chances and both 'keepers were tested on a number of occasions.  Things took a turn in the wrong direction for the league leaders just before the break when Kim Kyung-min was the beneficiary of a tap-in following a defensive turnover.

Parity would soon be restored after the break, however, when Lee Dong-ryul was played in on goal and tried to cut back for Ryu Seung-woo, but the ball deflected off the leg of Jeong Min-ki and ended up in the back of the net, with the Violets' 'keeper charged with the own goal.

It was then when the floodgates opened, as Jeju would score three more goals in the last quarter of an hour including injury time, as second half substitute Jin Seong-wook posted a brace and Lee Chang-min adding the fourth goal in the fourth minute of injury time.  

Highlights



Ansan Greeners 0-4 Suwon FC

Ansan Greeners suffered a heavy defeat at home last weekend against title contenders Suwon FC, who were the more clinical side and took their chances well to secure all three points.  Suwon were awarded a penalty courtesy of video review on the half hour mark, which Marlone converted.  It could have been two just minutes later, but Lars Veldwijk's effort cannoned off the post and Masatoshi Ishida's second effort was easily scooped up by Kim Sun-woo.  The visitors would keep up the pressure but would take just the single goal to halftime.

An Byoung-jun came off the bench in the second half and made an immediate impact to double Suwon's lead just after the hour mark.  Veldwijk took advantage of a turnover in midfield and the visitors pushed the ball forward.  The North Korean was in the right place to smash home Yoo Ju-an's cutback and that all but put the match beyond reach for the home side who had done little to that point to establish a presence in the match.  Victory was confirmed by two goals from Ishida in the space of thirteen minutes, and the race for automatic promotion is still well and truly alive.

Highlights 


Previous Meetings

The last time the two sides met was at the end of August, which resulted in a 3-1 win for the islanders.  Gong Min-hyun scored a pair of goals and Jung Woo-jae added a third, while Kim Ryun-do scored a consolation goal in injury time.  It was the first time in the Ansan forward's career where he had scored in a match where his team lost.

The first meeting of the season seems like ages ago all the way back in May where Jeju needed a late goal from Kang Yoon-sung to seal all three points, in the midst of their first unbeaten run of the season which spanned over seven matches.

Team News

Kang Yoon-sung has been called up by U-23 coach Kim Hak-bum for the international break.  The senior men's national team will play a pair of matches against the Olympic team in Goyang.  The first match is on Friday October 9th and the second is on the 12th, with both kickoffs slated for eight o'clock.

Eder Lima recently left the club for a move to second tier Chinese side JX Liansheng.  The Brazilian attacker did not receive much playing time in his stint with Jeju, appearing only four times, scoring once.  He also played for Nam Ki-il in Seongnam last season, but his production was not at the level it could have been due to injuries, which were also part of the concern regarding him at the beginning of the season.  The emergence of other players, such as Gong Min-hyun may have had a significant impact on why the former Magpie's playing time was reduced.

In other news, the U-21 national team will also convene for training at the NFC in Paju from October 13th to the 17th.  Four Jeju United players have been selected.  Kim Hyun-woo, Seo Jin-su, Lee Kyu-hyuk and Lim Deok-keun will look to secure their spots as the team gets ready for the 2022 AFC U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers.  That is the highest number of players selected from any club for the current cycle.  It will also mean they will not be available to play for Jeju in the coming weeks, according to a team press release. 

The rest of the squad should be available for selection.  There are no suspensions and the team looks to be in good health.

Kim Hyun-tae recently returned to Ansan after completing his military service with K4 side Paju Citizen, where he made eight appearances this year.  The 25 year old center back began his professional career with Jeonnam Dragons in 2018.  There is a good chance he may take on the role of defensive midfielder for the Green Wolves, and could be available as early as this weekend.

"While I was in the military, I waited for the day when I would come back to Ansan.  Even though I have joined at the end of the season, I have quickly adapted to the club.  I will do my best to prepare and help the team win their remaining matches," the player said on his return to the club.

There are no player suspensions but Kim Gil-sik will not be on the sideline.  He watched the match against Suwon from the stands as well.


The Adversary

Choi Keun-ju in action for Ansan against Suwon last weekend.

With only fourteen goals as a team this season, no other team has scored less than the Green Wolves.  Choi Geon-joo and Kim Ryun-do both have three apiece, accounting for almost half of the total output in 2020.  This likely means there will be wholesale changes at the club for next year, but a lot also has to do with the number of players who left over the winter.  Ansan is in serious need of re-tooling and there is also the question of whether Kim Gil-sik will keep his job.  The team has won only five matches all year and things do not look any easier as the season draws to a close with matches against Seoul E-Land and Jeonnam Dragons, both of whom are competing for the playoffs, in the near future.

Who to Watch

Jung Woon (13) has been a major reason for the islanders' much-improved defensive play in 2020.

Jung Woon - Jeju United

The return of Jung Woon to the island has coincided with exponentially better play in the defensive half of the field this year.  During his time at Gimpo Citizen while he was completing his military service (and where he played only one match) Jeju had the worst defensive record in K League 1.  They conceded an astronomical 72 times en route to relegation in 2019, but have looked a much different outfit this season in large part to his presence in the back.  The 2012/13 1.HNL Team of the Year winner with NK Istra and 2016 K League 1 Team of the Year winner with the islanders has had a major impact since cementing himself as the anchor of the back line.

It started with a change of position from fullback to centre back on a permanent basis back near the end of August with Jeju now playing three in the back from week to week.  He leads the team in interceptions with 115, aerial duels won with 74, and defensive clearances with 44.  Those are just some of the categories which have made an overall difference not only in his play but its impact on the rest of the team structure on the pitch.

Nam Ki-il is clearly satisfied by his performances this season.

"Jung Woon is a clever player.  I always thought he could handle any position.  We have a lot of centre backs, but few who can play in an offensive role, so that is why he is getting so much playing time right now.  His ability is having a positive effect on the team," the manager said.

The player himself was committed from the beginning.

"If the team needs it, you can adapt to any position.  It was not an easy transition, but I had the trust of my coaches and teammates and so it made things much easier.  As a veteran player, I have to go one step further and work harder in defense.  If I show a good example, then the other players will follow.  In this way, I can get one step closer to promotion with my teammates," he concluded.


Prediction

Jeju are the favorites heading into the match, not only based on current form but also past results.  Having beaten the Green Wolves twice already this season, and playing the match at home where they have lost only once, all indicators point to victory, but it still must be earned.  Nam Ki-il has his men motivated to go out and get another three points, and they should be able to do just that.

Predicted Score: Jeju United 2-1 Ansan Greeners  

 

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