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Seongnam host Pohang - but will they park the Buș?

Heading into Round 6, fifth-place Seongnam FC entertain sixth-place Pohang Steelers on Sunday afternoon, with both clubs looking to prove that they belong in the top half of the table. Seongnam will be aiming to address their league-tying low of three goals scored, whilst Pohang will be hoping to tighten up their shaky defence after conceding three goals against Suwon Bluewings in midweek. Joey Mellows previews this enticing encounter.

Recent Form

Seongnam have lost just once in their opening five games, against a flying Suwon Bluewings side that have conceded one goal all season. However, the Magpies have yet to face a side that finished higher than 8th in the K League 1 in 2020, and Pohang Steelers should provide a more thorough examination of Seongnam’s stout backline. Seongnam have picked up seven points from their last three games and scored two goals away at Suwon FC last weekend before firing blanks against bottom of the table Gangwon FC in midweek. The Tancheon faithful will be hoping that manager Kim Nam-il changes his starting eleven to increase the chance of more goals this Sunday.

Pohang Steelers finished third in the K-League last year but lost key players in the off-season which has resulted in their current position of sixth. They have picked up just one point in their last three games, whilst scoring one goal and conceding five. Manager Kim Gi-dong will be demanding a bounce-back performance against Seongnam FC to avoid facing an increasingly discontented Steel Yard when Pohang return home to play Daegu FC on April 2nd.

Previous Meetings

Since returning to the top flight in 2019 Seongnam have faced Pohang five times, losing four and last recording a win on April 13th in 2019. Pohang have won the last four meetings in a row, scoring eight and conceding just one goal. A plethora of off-season personnel changes means that much of this can be ignored, especially as the three goals in Pohang’s most recent 2-1 win over Seongnam featured two from Stanislav Iljutcenko, now with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC, and one from former Magpies striker, Na Sang-ho, now scoring goals for FC Seoul.

Team News

Seongnam FC have consistently implemented a 3-1-4-2 formation whilst rotating players within that system. Their three goals have all come off the bench, one from Romanian striker Sergio Buș against Suwon FC, and two from Serbian center forward Fejsal Mulić, who was also K League MVP in Gameweek 4. Magpies fans will be hoping manager Kim Nam-il starts with one or both of these offseason signings this weekend with Kang Jae-woo or Park Yong-ji likely to be replaced. Defender Ahn Young-kyu should miss this game after being sent off for two bookable offences in midweek.

Six Steelers players have not missed a minute of action this season, with three of these in the defensive back 4 along with goalkeeper Kang Hyun-moo. Manager Kim Gi-dong, has tampered more with the midfield as he looks to settle on a line-up that can support the impressive attacking threat of 21 year-old, Song Min-kyu, scorer of two goals already. Colombian winger Manuel Palacios will be hoping to finish a game for the first time in 2021, having been removed in all five games thus far. For further information on Pohang Steelers games this year, follow K League United columnist @Shibagoal on Twitter.

What To Watch

Will 22 players be on the field at full-time?

Four of five Seongnam games have featured a red card with the intense, defensive pressing of Kim Nam-il’s side often infuriating opponents and resulting in frequent mis-timed tackles. The left-sided defender of Seongnam’s back three has twice been red-carded for two bookable offences with Park Jeon-su falling victim in the 38th minute against Samsung Bluewings and Ahn Young-kyu dismissed in the 77th minute away to Gangwon FC. Unsurprisingly only one point was claimed from the six available in those matches and a more disciplined approach is key if Seongnam are to get any points in this fixture.

Will any foreign players start for Seongnam?

The last two Seongnam match-day squads have featured no foreign players in the starting eleven - an unusual occurrence in a league where the tight restrictions on overseas signings often leads to their playing a pivotal role. Austrian defender Richard Windbichler was imperious in the first two games of the season but has not been seen since - with an injury likely, but not reported. Uzbekistani midfielder Jamshid Iskanderov has featured in just 24 minutes of action, coming on as a substitute against Suwon Bluewings before being subbed off. Fejsal Mulić has looked the most dangerous player for Seongnam this season but has not yet started a game, whilst former Sheffield Wednesday striker, Sergio Buș is nearing full fitness. Will Kim Nam-il’s line-up announcements continue to surprise?

Are Pohang still a top four team?

The Steelers have not finished outside the top four since 2016 but are facing serious questions this year as they look to replace the creativity and goals of Aleksandar Palocevic and Stanislav Iljutchenko. With the dominance of current champions Jeonbuk and Asian Champion League winners, Ulsan Hyundai FC, set to continue, the impressive start to the season of the Suwon Bluewings and the potential of an exciting FC Seoul side, could push Pohang further down the standings. Games, like this weekend, against unfavoured Seongnam FC, are key if the Steelers are to get back into the top 4 and have a chance of Champions League football in 2022.

Who To Watch

Song Min-kyu
Song Min-kyu could hold the key to the eventual winners of this contest. The K League Young Player of the Year in 2020 has already netted twice in the first five games and will be looking to beat the ten he scored in the previous campaign. If Seongnam’s turgid defensive formation can stifle his creativity then a point or more could be the Magpie’s come the final whistle. The battle between Seongnam defensive-midfield lynchpin Lee Gyu-seong and Song Min-kyu will be fascinating to watch.

Where to Watch

Sunday 21st March, kick-off at 2pm (KST) Fans in countries with K League broadcasting rights can watch the game live on television. Alternatively, all matches can be streamed live on tv.kleague.com.




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