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scouting

Can Gangwon reach the top half with their structured style?

Gangwon FC will be wishing for a case of ‘same again, again’ on Wednesday after a pragmatic 1-0 away victory to FC Seoul made it four unbeaten. Meanwhile, Jeju United will be looking to avenge their misfortunes versus bottom placed Suwon FC against a side they have traditionally mixed fortunes with head-to-head. Guest Contributor Nathan Sartain previews Wednesday's match.

Recent Form

Jeju United begrudgingly waved goodbye to a six-game unbeaten run on Sunday, with an amalgamation of a lack of cutting edge and poor luck leaving them with nothing to show from an otherwise solid performance against Suwon FC. Two contentious disallowed goals against the league’s strugglers will frustrate the squad, and they will be expecting better on Wednesday, even if Nam Ki-il’s side are teetering dangerously close to a five-game winless run.

On the other hand, Gangwon FC will be full of confidence after their scrappy, hardworking defensive performance paid dividends against FC Seoul. A late Ko Moo-yeol penalty was the only goal of the game, with chances for both sides limited; something admirers of ‘Byung-soo ball’ certainly haven’t come to expect. Fans will be hoping that the 7th placed side can be a bit more expressive in the coming weeks, but whilst the compact defensive system is bringing forward momentum, complaints are unlikely to be high on the agenda.

Team News

Jeju are not likely to offer too many surprises with their line-up, especially given the fact that the regular faces have seldom let the manager down this season. Oh Seung-hoon will retain his place between the sticks, and the back three of Jung Woon, Kwon Han-jin and Kim Oh-gyu, who have all been in fine form this campaign, should continue to be favoured in defence. Elsewhere, the reliable Lee Chang-min will conceivably keep his place at the heart of the midfield, whilst Joo Min-kyu could force his way back into the starting eleven after an impressive cameo performance against Suwon which was capped off with a goal.

For Gangwon, Rustamjon Ashurmatov should return to the right-side of the defence after being limited to a substitute appearance away to FC Seoul, the increasingly trustworthy Lee Bum-soo must keep his place in the net following another clean-sheet, and Ko Moo-yeol could well continue to lead the line after another impressive, understated showing. However, the right-wing position is becoming an annoying head-scratcher for Kim Byung-soo, with neither Kim Dae-woo or Kim Dae-won showing enough to justify a solidified starting place. The latter is more likely to start on Wednesday, but needs to begin demonstrating why Gangwon FC signed him with a more pronounced consistency.

Head-to-Head

The two sides haven’t met since 2019 when Gangwon coasted to a comfortable 2-0 win, but before that both teams have had rather even fortunes when matched up. Gangwon have taken nine wins, Jeju boast ten, and there have been three stalemates. With that being said, it is Kim Byung-soo’s side who have won three out of the last five meetings, holding an 11-6 aggregate score in the process; a statistic they would undoubtedly like to keep.

What to Watch

Can Gangwon reach the top half with their structured style?


No longer the free-scoring, goal-shipping Gangwon some had come to know, Kim Byung-soo has developed a knack for defensive solidarity in recent weeks. Conceding just one goal in their last four games, whilst it may be a slog to watch this pluckier incarnation of Gangwon, there is now a much-needed bite to the 7th placed side which had been missing before. If they can achieve the right balance between their defensive prowess and attacking flair, this is a team who may just push their way back into a top-half finish that they disappointingly missed out on last season.

Will Jeju bounce back after misfortunes?


On Wednesday, all eyes will be on the response of Jeju following their controversial first loss of the season to Suwon FC. Will they be eager to retaliate on the back of their woes, or do they risk slumping to back-to-back defeats for the first time since they were promoted? Judging by their hardworking, persevering performances early in the season, the safe bet would be on the former of the options.

Who to Watch

Ko Moo-yeol

The 30-year-old striker is undergoing something of a mini-revival of late, with two penalty goals and consistent performances helping his team secure successive victories. Leading the forward line, the experienced striker gives his manager and teammates plenty of assurance and quality, and will hope to continue his good form on Wednesday. If he does, then there’s no reason why Gangwon can’t win three consecutive league games, leapfrogging into the upper echelons of the table in the process.

Match Prediction

Jeju United should come into Wednesday’s game self-motivated after Sunday’s injustices, with Gangwon the unfortunate side who must feel any weight of frustrations. However, with their good form and confidence, the away side may just have what it takes to overcome the challenge, and win back-to-back away league games for the first time since an impressive double against Busan IPark last campaign.

Score Prediction: Jeju United 0-1 Gangwon FC

Nathan Sartain
Guest Contributor 

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