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Gyeongnam and FC Anyang to Get the Ball Rolling in K League 2

Seol Ki-hyeon's Gyeongnam FC will be happy that they open their 2021 campaign with a home fixture against FC Anyang. On paper, this should be a routine home victory for Changwon-based outfit. The Violets would love to upset the apple cart and travel south hoping to spring a surprise on Saturday afternoon. KLU's Gyeongnam columnist James Edrupt previews the leagues' curtain-raiser.

Match: Gyeongnam FC vs FC Anyang.

Venue: Changwon Football Center. Changwon.

Kick off: Saturday, February 27th; 2021; 13:30 (KST)

Recent Form

Gyeongnam enter the new campaign with several new faces that have joined the ranks. The fact they managed to keep the core of the squad intact bodes well for the season ahead.  The Reds' had a hectic preseason, playing numerous games against university sides and a few K League 1 elevens.  The squad looked very confident and the manager Seol Ki-hyeon will be looking for a positive start in the league.  The opening few fixtures on paper have been rather kind for them.  FC Anyang at home followed by Jeonnam Dragons and Ansan Greeners both away, the promotion hopefuls could pick up maximum points if they play to their full potential.   Hwang Il-soo has been made captain and Baek Sung-dong vice-captain, so both of these players will be leading from the front ensuring the squad gets off to a promising start.  The existing squad from 2020 will want to put the heartache of what happened on the last day behind them and will want to kick on starting on Saturday.

FC Anyang had a sniff of the playoffs last campaign but after a 1-0 away defeat at the hands of Gyeongnam it was all but over.  Their promising season up until then fizzled out and they ended the season poorly only picking up four points from their remaining five matches.  In preseason they had two training camps in the southern part of the peninsula, with games against university teams and K League 1 sides.  They managed to keep influential 31-year-old defender Brazilian Nilson at the club and Ghanaian pacey striker Acosty as well.  They have added Costa Rican striker Johnathan Moya to the mix.  He seems to know where the goal is scoring in double digits in his last four seasons playing for Alajuelense in the Costa Rican top division.

It must be noted Gyeongnam won all three fixtures last season.  3-2 in Anyang and then two 1-0 successes at the Changwon Football Center.  The two sides have clashed 15 times in total with Gyeongnam winning nine times, FC Anyang only winning 3 times with 3 ending in draws.  

What to Watch

Influential winger Baek Sung-dong will be heavily involved on Saturday

With home comforts to start, Seol Ki-hyeons men will be looking to make the Changwon Football Center a fortress this season.  With the depth at the club being the best it's been in years, it's if the players can adapt their game to the way Seol wants them to play will be key.  He demands so much from the players.  He expects work rate and a high press from all his players, closing down the opposition and forcing them into errors for his team to capitalize is fundamental in his ethos for success.  Seol and his staff have worked his squad to the bone in preseason making sure they are ready for the long season ahead.  The gaffers playing experiences in Europe means his methods when it comes to coaching and seeing the game are vastly different from what is type on these shores.  After a bedding in season last year he will be hoping his squad of players can hit the ground running this weekend.

Experienced Brazilian defender Nilson will have his hands full containing the array of talent Gyeongnam have at their disposal

FC Anyang travel to Changwon hoping to spring a surprise of their own.  Under the new tutelage of manager Lee Woo-hyung, they will be vying for a better-placed finish than ninth last campaign.  They did enjoy more successes away from home than at home last season so they travel quite well.  They have some dangerous players in their ranks, namely Maxwell Acosty who in his debut season bagged himself seven goals, and Nilson who won the most defensive duels in the division in 2020.  The Violets brought back center-half Baek Dong-gyu from Jeju United and they managed to keep hold of promising midfielder Maeng Seung-ung.  He looks like he could make the step up to K League 1 in the not too distant future.  They also added Japanese midfielder Ryosuke Tamura from J3 league side Fukushima United.  More recently they added the aforementioned Costa Rican forward Johnathan who has enjoyed a prolific spell in recent seasons.  The Anyang faithful will be hoping he can bring his scoring form to the K League.

Who to Watch


Exciting new signing Willyan will be hoping to get his Gyeongnam career off to a good start this weekend (Picture courtesy of Gyeongnam FC facebook page)

Gyeongnam pulled off a real coup persuading the 27-year-old Brazilian sign from K League 1 outfit Gwangju FC.  He had a really promising season last campaign scoring five times and assisting three.  He is extremely fast and his power and pace moving with the ball is a real asset to his game.  He is more than capable of scoring from distance and he is no stranger to this league, playing for Gwangju during their promotion back in 2019.  Willyan was a key piece of the jigsaw that saw them go up to K League 1.  Look for the winger to get on the ball as much as possible and try to make things happen.  He will be thriving to form a good relationship with fellow new signing Lee Jeong-hyeop throughout the game.   

Gyeongnam, should have too much for FC Anyang all over the pitch.  However it is the first game of the season and players from both sides will be lacking match fitness.  These kinds of fixtures can spring a surprise result now and again especially early on in the season.  But on Saturday I think the Reds' will prove too strong for Anyang and come out on top, but not by much.

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