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Can Seongnam's goal-shy frontline click for the visit of FC Seoul?

Goal-shy Seongnam FC face their former ace on Wednesday night as striker Na Sang-ho makes the short commute south with his FC Seoul side. Joey Mellows previews this Round 3 fixture in K League 1 for K League United.

Last Time Out

Seongnam have stifled and frustrated opposing teams along with their own fans in the first two rounds of this season. A scoreless draw on opening weekend, against newly promoted Jeju United, was followed up with a 1-0 defeat to bitter local rivals Suwon Samsung Bluewings - a game where each team only managed one shot on target. Red cards have also become a feature of Seongnam games - with one straight red dished out to Jin Sung-wook from Jeju United in the first game followed by a dismissal in just the 38th minute for Park Jeong-su after two reckless challenges led to bookings against Suwon Samsung Bluewings. Zero goals, a lack of creativity in midfield and poor discipline need to be issues manager Kim Nam-il will be looking to fix on Wednesday night at home in Tancheon Stadium.

FC Seoul, on the other hand, looked dangerous against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC in their first game of the season, eventually succumbing 2-0 to the reigning K League 1 Champions. Their fifteen attempts on goal highlighted a new attacking potential that was realised in their 3-0 victory over Suwon FC last weekend. FC Seoul have both conceded an own goal, against Jeonbuk, and benefitted from an own goal, against Suwon FC, in their two league matches this season. Their only goal-scorer, Na Sang-ho with two, returns to Seongnam to face the team he scored 7 goals in 19 games for in 2020.

Previous Meetings

Since Seongnam’s return to the top flight in 2019, four of the last six meetings between these teams has resulted in a 1-0 scoreline, with three of these favouring FC Seoul. Somewhat encouragingly, goals have been scored in the last fifteen games of this match-up in the league, with the last 0-0 coming on the 15th March, 2014. Historically, across all competitions, this fixture has resulted in 6 draws with 19 wins for FC Seoul and 17 for Seongnam.

FC Seoul will be the heavily favoured team this time around but the stingy Seongnam defence, marshalled by the impressive Richard Windbichler at centre back, and Kim Young-kwan in goal, may see a shutout as a good result. Whether this approach will lead to more tension among the Tancheon fans remains to be seen.

Team News

Wednesday night’s fixture comes in the middle of a busy period for both teams. FC Seoul played late on Sunday afternoon and could rotate their starting line-up with a third game in under a week coming up against Incheon United on Saturday. Seongnam may want to make several changes in the hope of finding more creative spark before an early 6-pointer away at sparkless Suwon FC on Sunday afternoon.

Seongnam have struggled for fire-power and manager Kim Nam-il could hand a first appearance to new Romanian striker Sergio Buș. Defender, Park Jeong-su, was sent off 38 minutes into his Magpies debut and will miss a game, perhaps resulting in a reshuffling of the favoured 3-1-4-2 formation. Uzbekistan midfielder, Jamshid Iskanderov, should expect more playing time in a central midfield that has lacked any creativity thus far. Twenty year-old Hong Si-hoo may also be lined up for more minutes after two underwhelming starts from Park Yong-ji in a supporting attacking role.

FC Seoul come into this fixture buoyed by a superb performance from star off-season signing Ki Sung-yueng against Suwon FC last weekend. Question marks still remain regarding the centre forward position, with manager Park Jin-sub potentially ready to take out the ageing Park Chu-young up top.

What To Watch

The approach undertaken by Seongnam manager Kim Nam-il will be fascinating to study in the early minutes of this game. The fans are becoming restless after watching only two wins at home in the league throughout all of 2020. A conservative set-up against a fluent and increasingly confident FC Seoul team may be the correct approach for maximising the potential for a point but this will do nothing for the paying goal-starved fans. Who will start up front? Will the central midfield players stand up? Is youth in the shape of Hong Si-hoo the way forward? There will be much to ponder and analyse once the starting line-up is announced.

For FC Seoul fans, they will be hoping this is the game where big off-season signing Aleksandar Paločević demonstrates his immense talents. The 27 year-old Serbian dazzled for Pohang Steelers last season with 9 goals and 6 assists in 18 games and should be the figurehead of an exciting midfield triangle with Ki Sung-yeung and Osmar.


Who To Watch

Fejsal Mulic is hard to miss, standing 6 foot 8 inches and playing at the front of a frustrating Seongnam attack. A second-half cameo in the first game of the season suggested potential but a disappointing start against Suwon Blue Wings means that the jury is still out on whether the 26 year-old can cut the mustard as a regular in the starting eleven. Somewhat surprisingly, it is his heading that has let him down, with a couple of good chances being squandered in the air. There is still potential of witnessing a ‘Big Bus’ partnership between Mulic and new attacker Sergiu Buș, but a goal, any goal, is what the team desperately need.

All eyes will be on flying FC Seoul forward Na Sang-ho, hot off a brace against Suwon FC, and former darling of the Seongnam fans, after his 7 goals in 2020 helped keep the club in the top flight. A returning former player is often a recipe for a goal and the 24 year-old hotshot needs to be handled with care throughout this encounter.

Where To Watch

Seongnam FC vs FC Seoul can be viewed for free by international fans of the K League via K League TV. Kick-off is at 7pm KST.

Joey Mellows (@BaseballBrit

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