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Bucheon host Gimcheon before new recruits join

Over a quarter of the season has been played in K League 2 and the top nine places are still very crowded. Last placed hosts Bucheon FC 1995 are the outliers, six points adrift at the bottom of the table, but in with a chance of reducing that gap due to match postponements. Fifth place visitors Gimcheon Sangmu, meanwhile, come to Gyeonggido on Saturday needing a win as they know that by the end of the weekend they could finish anywhere from second to eighth place. 

Recent Form

Bucheon  increased their winless and scoreless run to six games each. Their last five matches have seen them lose 1-0 to Gimcheon away, 1-0 Ansan Greeners at home, 3-0 to Gyeongnam away, 2-0 to Busan at home, and on Wednesday they extended their run with a 2-0 away defeat against FC Anyang. They have had some bad luck that has distorted the results somewhat, such as hitting the post against Busan have conceding two penalty goals against Anyang, but they clearly lack quality upfront and discipline at the back, which combined with an inability to experiment has resulted in their poor start to the season. 

Last year's tally of 26 points was the lowest in Bucheon's history, but that was partly due to the season only being 27 matches long due to covid-19. Unless Bucheon start to make some dramatic improvements, they are on track to do even worse this year, despite it being a 36 game season. 

Gimcheon have earned three wins and two defeats in their last five matches, starting with a 1-0 at home victory over Bucheon. They were then defeated 2-1 away to Jeonnam Dragons, before recovering to beat Chungnam Asan 2-1 away. A 2-1 home loss to Gyeongnam followed, but they managed to start this week with a 1-0 home triumph over Busan IPark. Throughout this five match period all of Gimcheon's six goals have come from six different goalscorers, meaning they have threats from all over the pitch. The scorer of the winner in their last game was Cho Gue-sung, and a return to form for him could be dangerous for Bucheon considering he scored 14 goals for FC Anyang in 2019 the last time he played in K League 2.

What to Watch

Bucheon undid the experiments they brought in for Sunday's Busan IPark defeat. Against Anyang Jeon Jong-hyeok returned in goal, sending Lee Ju-hyeon to the bench, and Ahn Jae-jun was given another chance in the middle if their attack in place of Han Ji-ho. However, having captain Cho Soo-chul return to the starting lineup was no doubt reassuring. Despite them losing to Anyang 2-0, the fact that Anyang are top of the lead and both goals were penalties might give the coach encouragement to just keep things the way they are. This is despite the fact that they have played a 3-4-3 throughout their entire losing and scoreless run and they have not even attempted to give another tactic a chance. 

This week Gimcheon Sangmu announced the 12 players that will join the club next month for their national service. They are: Ko Seung-beom (Suwon SB); Park Ji-soo (Suwon FC); Han Chan-hee (FC Seoul); Ji Eon-hak, Jung Dong-yun, Moon Ji-hwan (Incheon United); Kim Kyung-min, Kim Han-gil (Jeonnam Dragons); Kim Min-seok (Chungnam Asan); Song Ju-hun (Jeju United); Hwang In-jae (Pohang Steelers); Kim Jung-hoon (Jeonbuk HM). As the club has been quite inconsistent, alternating between winning and losing for their last five matches, there might be some increased experimentation in the side over the next few weeks to see which players are worthy of competing for places with the incoming players. Gimcheon have over two dozen players who have played four games or lower each, so a match against the league's bottom side could mean that there might be some surprise inclusions on Saturday. 

Who to Watch

An Tae-hyun will be returning to Bucheon this season alongside fellow Gimcheon Sangmu teammate Choi Chul-won, but not before he gets the chance to potentially turn out against his parent club. While goalkeeper Choi has only played two league games during his spell for the army team (though both matches have been recently this season), right-winger An has cemented himself as a first team regular. Prior to beginning his national service ahead of the 2020 season An spent all four seasons of his career in K League 2, first with Seoul E-Land and then three seasons at Bucheon.

28 year-old An was clearly a talented player for Bucheon and was one of their Player of the Year nominees in their fourth place finishing season of 2019, but there was no clear proof that he would successfully make the jump up to K League 1 for the then called Sangju Sangmu. But An managed to do just that, playing 22 out of 27 league matches as Sangmu ended the season in fourth place. Relocation meant relegation, meaning An has had to finish his stint with the military in K League 2, where he has still played regularly, making four appearances in all competitions.

If he is in the squad this Saturday then it is likely to be a warm welcome for An at Bucheon stadium, as he was a popular figure at the club and is currently the joint-sixth most capped player in their history. Upon his return An will most likely break into the top five, however the club could decide to not play him and instead attempt to sell him in the summer if his stock is still high from last year. With Bucheon's current bad form they need all the help they can get, so they will probably try to keep An until at least the end of the season. If he plays in this match then it will almost be like a trial match, with the coach seeing how An could potentially fit into his current tactical system. With Sangmu An has not been too productive with goals and assists, but he has played a large part in helping to construct their attacks. This could prove dangerous for Bucheon now, but beneficial when he returns this summer. 

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