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scouting

Gangwon FC look to bounce back but face stern Pohang test


Pohang Steelers will be on the road for the first time in the 2021 Hank Bank K League 1 season versus a Gangwon FC side that got their new campaign off to the worst possible start. Will the Steelers pick up their first away win on Saturday, March 6 at the Gangneung Stadium or will Gangwon manage to open their account? Shibajee Das previews this Round 2 encounter.    

Recent Form

Gangwon FC had finished a commendable 7th in the 2020 season but started their new season with a forgettable 0-5 away defeat against Ulsan Hyundai. Skipper Lim Chai-min was sent off in the second half and overall the team looked devoid of ideas. In fairness, Gangwon faces a tough start to the season with the Bears having last season's top three on the menu to get their new campaign underway.


Pohang Steelers, on the other hand, got their new season off to a winning start against Incheon United. But it was far from a straightforward victory, with the team having to come back from a goal down to claim all three points. Shin Kwang-hoon and Song Min-kyu were on the scoresheet in front of optimistic home support.  


Both teams met twice last season, with Pohang running out winners on both occasions scoring a total of five goals and conceding none across the two matches.

Team News

Gangwon FC

Gangwon will be without their captain and key centre-back Lim Chai-min after he was sent off against Ulsan. Rustam Ashurmatov will have to marshall the defence in his absence. At the other end of the pitch, Kim Ji-hyun has moved on so the Gangwon faithful will be hoping that Masatoshi Ishida can be clinical in front of goal. 

How will Gangwon cope without their leader Lim Chai-min? 

It will be interesting to see if new recruit Vladimir Siladi gets his first league start. The 27-year-old has arrived after five seasons with Serbian Superliga outfit Backa Topola. Siladi was the joint top-scorer in 2018-19, so he certainly knows the back of the net. He and Ishida will be crucial to Gangwon's season, and manager Kim Byung-soo will hope that they can quickly forge a formidable partnership.   

Pohang Steelers

This will be the final match for Ha Chang-rae, ahead of joining Gimcheon Sangmu in K League 2 in order to undergo his military service. New signing Alex Grant came on as a substitute against Incheon but was then substituted as he still looked some way off full fitness.

Shin Kwang-hoon will be hoping for a happy return having left Gangwon in the close season

Teenager Go Young-joon looked lively after coming off the bench, but it could be too soon for him to start in this match. The same applies to Lim Sang-hyub, the experienced forward having joined in the close season. The Steelers still have only two overseas players in their ranks, and it surely must be sooner rather than later before they add to it.


What to Watch

Battle of the Bosses

Despite the presence of several talented players on both sides, it will be intriguing to watch the two men who will be leading them from the dugout. Two managers with contrasting styles will clash on Saturday, as Kim Byung-soo readies himself for a battle against Kim Gi-dong.

Is Kim Byung-soo looking to add new dimensions to "Byungsoo-ball"?

Gangwon's progressive possession-based approach to the game earned several plaudits last season. The team normally lined up in a 4-3-3 or sometimes in a 4-4-2 setup, but against Ulsan, they started with a 3-4-3 setup. Despite their attractive style earning them a mid-table finish, Gangwon conceded 41 goals last term, which was the third-most in the league. So, Kim Byung-soo is clearly trying to find solutions to stop leaking goals at the back. In their last match, going down to ten men didn't help their cause, but does a change of formation mean Kim Byung-soo looking to add new dimensions to "Byungsoo-ball"?

Kim Gi-dong will be hoping for more of the same from his boys 

The opposing dugout will see last season's manager of the year, Kim Gi-dong. The Steelers boss has a different approach to the game. They do not necessarily have more possession when playing away from home and like to hit teams on the counter. Last season's trip to Gangwon is a perfect example. Kim Gi-dong's team allowed Gangwon much of the ball, which meant Pohang ended up with only 39% possession and had four shots on target compared to Gangwon's eight and yet the Steelers were so ruthless in front of goal that they managed to go back home with a 0-3 victory.

Who will come out on top in this battle of the masterminds?  
       

Where to Watch

Fans in the 34 countries with overseas broadcasting rights will be able to follow the match live on television. Full details and the list of providers can be found here

Alternatively, there is the K League's newly launched OTT platform, K League TV, where live coverage will be available free of charge. Simply log in and enjoy!    


FNR


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