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Preview: Jeju United vs Seoul E-Land


 Jeju United have an opportunity to clinch the club's first league title since 1989 and earn automatic promotion back to the top flight when they welcome Seoul E-Land on Sunday afternoon.  A crucial 2-0 victory over Suwon FC last Saturday has put them six points clear at the top, but with two matches remaining, there is still work to be done.  The Leopards took advantage of a late red card against Ansan Greeners to walk away 3-0 winners and keep themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt, making them very dangerous opponents this round.  Both teams still have all to play for.  KLU's Branko Belan looks ahead to the match.


Match: Jeju United vs Seoul E-Land
Venue: Jeju World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Sunday November 1st, 2020; 13:30 KST

Last Time Out

Jeju United 2-0 Suwon FC

Jeju took a huge step towards a title with their win over Suwon last weekend.  The hosts did well to control matters during the first half hour of the match, and it paid dividends when they went in front on 31 minutes thanks to a fantastic finish from Lee Dong-ryul, who showed quick feet to bring the ball into a shooting position on the edge of the area.  He fired a low drive across Park Hyung-soon, finding the bottom corner.  The islanders would take a slim advantage to the break.

Things looked fairly stationary for much of the second half until Jin Seong-wook doubled the hosts' advantage with less than a quarter of an hour left.  Another fine passing move cut through the Suwon defense leaving Jung Woo-jae one on one with the Suwon 'keeper.  He played a first-time cutback to Jeju's number ten, who calmly slotted the ball home.  Despite having 59 percent of possession, the visitors were wasteful with the ball, having only one shot on target the entire match.  Jeju, meanwhile, secured a massive three points and will look to confirm their place in the top flight next season with a result against playoff-chasing Seoul E-Land.

Highlights


Ansan Greeners 0-3 Seoul E-Land

Seoul E-Land picked up a very important win away to Ansan Greeners as three of their key players all got on the scoresheet.  Richard Sukuta-Pasu opened the scoring 22 minutes in when he headed home Jang Yun-ho's free kick thanks in part to some lax defending from the Green Wolves.  Not much changed over the course of the match until Kim Tae-hyun was sent off for a second bookable offense on 77 minutes.  That prompted the Leopards to surge forward, and they soon found a second goal, with Leandro hitting the target with seven minutes of regular time remaining, heading in from Ko Jae-hyun's cross.

That was not the end of it, however, as Won Ki-jong added a third in the fourth minute of injury time.  He timed his jump to create a turnover as Ansan were moving out of defense and ran at a pair of defenders before scoring low into the net.  Lee In-jae showed a weak pair of hands as the ball deflected of him before going in, the type of play that has been indicative of Ansan's season after they just missed out on the playoffs last year.  The win moves E-Land up to third in the table with a two point advantage on the teams chasing below them.

Highlights  


Previous Meetings

There have been some memorable encounters between these two sides this year.  They opened the season against one another and the match finished in a 1-1 draw with Joo Min-kyu opening the scoring before Won Ki-jong found an equalizer with just over twenty minutes to play.  The match also saw Kim Sung-hyun pick up a second yellow card in injury time and get sent off.

Perhaps the best meeting of the season between the two came in the FA Cup in the summer when the Leopards had a two goal lead going into injury time courtesy of goals from Kim Jin-hwan and Won Ki-jong, but the islanders would pull off a miracle comeback, with Lim Dong-hyuk and Gong Min-hyun scoring within minutes of each other in time added on to send the match to extra time.  The comeback would be completed when Jung Jo-gook found the net with just three minutes remaining before the match would have gone to penalties.

Jeju won the last league meeting in July as well, with goals from Ahn Hyun-beom and Lee Chang-min from the penalty spot.  Leandro also scored from the spot for E-Land, while there was another sending off as Choi Jae-hoon was given his marching orders with a quarter of an hour left after picking up a straight red card.

Team News

There is good news for Jeju as Gong Min-hyun returns from his one match suspension this weekend to reinforce one of the league's best attacking fronts.  He leads the islanders with nine goals this season and has already claimed goals in this fixture this season and will be looking to do so again.  Jin Seong-wook did an excellent job last week against Suwon FC and will likely get the call up top again if Joo Min-kyu is still unable to go.  Having been left out of the squad since mid-June at Sangju Sangmu, he is on a bit of a tear with four goals in his last six matches since returning to the island.  Considering his current form, he may be the better bet for the starting eleven.

Year-end honors for the 2020 season were announced this week, and Jeju feature prominently.  Nam Ki-il is up for Manager of the Year; Lee Chang-min is in the running for league MVP, and Lee Dong-ryul is among those nominated for the K League 2 Young Player of the Year award.  Ten Jeju players are also in the running for the end of season Best XI.  They are as follows:

Oh Seung-hoon has been a critical piece to Jeju's success this season.

GK: Oh Seung-hoon
DF: Ahn Hyun-beom, Jung Woon, Kwon Han-jin, Jung Woo-jae
MF: Lee Dong-ryul, Lee Chang-min, Kim Young-wook, Gong Min-hyun
FW: Joo Min-kyu

The only member of the starting eleven not to garner a nomination was Kim Oh-gyu, who joined the club in the summer transfer window, but has been a standout performer since his arrival.  There are no suspensions this week and there are not expected to be major changes to the team which faced Suwon last weekend.


Seoul E-Land are facing some concerns heading into this weekend's match.  Kim Tae-hyun picked up a yellow card at the end of the match against Ansan last week, meaning he is suspended against Jeju.  Kim Min-kyun was injured a few weeks ago against FC Anyang and is still a doubt for this weekend as is Kim Hyun-keunChung Jung-yong will have some things to consider when deciding on his starting lineup for Sunday afternoon.

The Leopards have had a successful year, and that means that Leandro is part of the MVP conversation this year, while manager Chung Jung-yong is considered in the manager's category.  Leandro is also shortlisted for the Best XI, as are Richard Sukuta-Pasu, Kim Min-kyun, Lee Sang-min, and Kim Tae-hyun.


The Adversary

Leandro's MVP-like season has sparked a resurgence with the Leopards in 2020.

The Leopards sit third with two rounds to go, and a big reason for that has been their play up front.  Richard Sukuta-Pasu and Jang Yun-ho combined well to score the team's first goal last weekend and Ko Jae-hyun has also been a threat on the flanks of late.  Leandro has had a fantastic year and is deservedly being considered among the best for his exploits this season.  He is sure to be a factor on Sunday.

Kang Jeong-mook has been excellent in a relief role between the sticks, and Lee Sang-min has established himself as the leader at the back.  Won Ki-jong has been one of the more consistent players in terms of overall production to minutes played in 2020 and is a concern for any defense when he is on the ball.  They have all to play for and will have a bit of revenge on their mind thanks to the previous two losses, one in the cup and the previous one in the league.


What to Watch

Sunday's match is sure to be a tense one as both teams must win but for very different reasons.  Seoul E-Land need to maintain their position in the table and could potentially clinch a playoff spot with a win, while Jeju would wrap up the league title and automatic promotion in style, but in fact, they only need a draw from their two remaining matches to ensure a move up to the first division.

Matches between the two have been tight this season and the last one is sure to be no different, especially with so much on the line.  The islanders have the best defensive record in the league thanks in large part to Oh Seung-hoon, who ranks second in the league with nine clean sheets, but the real difference maker for the islanders this campaign has been Jung Woon, who has anchored the best back three in the league this year.  Not only that, he scored a pair of huge goals to keep the team at the top of the table and will be a key factor this weekend as well.


Prediction

Jeju have done a mountain of work in just a year's time to get to where they are now.  Seoul E-Land deserves a lot of credit for the job they have done and the appointment of Chung Jung-yong in the off-season has paid dividends in a big way.  But, the islanders are face to face with an opportunity they have not had in quite some time.  They have also managed to secure four of a possible six points in the league against their competition this weekend.  It will be a close affair, but the islanders should just be able to get over the line.

Predicted Score: Jeju United 2-1 Seoul E-Land

 

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