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Can Gyeongnam push their way into the playoff places?

 

Gyeongnam FC head into game-week thirteen of the campaign looking to continue their good form of late against Ansan Greeners.  The Green Wolves travel to Changwon after hitting a patch of rough form, not picking up maximum points in their last two games.  In comparison, the hosts have won their last two in K League 2 against tricky opponents in FC Anyang and Chungnam Asan.  Seol Ki-hyeon's team will be looking to continue the winning streak on Sunday.  K League United's Gyeongnam FC columnist James Edrupt takes us through what's in store this weekend.


Match: Gyeongnam FC vs Ansan Greeners
Venue: Changwon Football Center, Changwon.
Kickoff: Sunday, May 30th; 2021. 16:00 (KST)


Recent Form

Has Seol Ki-hyeon finally found his best eleven?

Despite losing in midweek 3-0 to K League 1 table-toppers Ulsan Hyundai in the FA Cup, Gyeongnam have been showing signs that they are coming good as we approach the middle part of the season.  Seol changed the entire starting eleven from the home victory against Chungnam Asan for the midweek tie, fully focusing his mind on the league.  

Last weekend The Reds beat a battling Asan side 2-1 with the man of the moment Kim Dong-jin scoring in consecutive matches to score the winner.  The hosts raced out of the traps and could have scored early on but some good defending and goalkeeping kept Gyeongnam at bay.  Experienced campaigner Hwang Il-soo saw to that and opened the scoring from the spot on the stroke of half-time after Hwang himself was brought down just inside the box.  The Owls to their credit never gave up and got their just rewards and leveled the game with a great strike.  Brazilian Alex Sandro played a give and go with striker Kim Shin on the edge of the penalty area.  Alex still with a lot to do, curled a sumptuous effort, past Son Jung-hyun to make it all square.  However, with just seven minutes remaining left wing-back Kim Dong-jin anticipated where a hopefully looking cross would land in the area.  He took a touch and bundled his way through the defense when he smashed an unstoppable drive across Lee Ki-hyun in the visitors net to take all three points.


  
Green Wolves manager Kim Gil-sik will be looking to get back on the winning trail

Ansan were left reeling by a late Seoul E-Land leveler last time out on home soil.  The hosts thought they had won the clash when top scorer Kim Ryun-do converted from close range with just eighteen minutes remaining, hooking the ball home after the ball looped up in the box.  Ever-present midfielder Go Jae-hyeon rescued a point for the Leopards in stoppage time with a thunderous left-footed strike into the roof of the net.  It was a great effort meaning he has already equaled his goal tally from last season after only twelve games this campaign.  The hosts will feel it was two points dropped against a good Seoul E-Land team in around the playoff positions.  





Team News

Gyeongnam FC

There is a good spirit in the camp going into Sunday

Manager Seol Ki-hyeon rested all players that started last time out in the league midweek in the FA Cup.  The squad who didn't play got a well-earned rest as the fixtures come thick and fast from here on in.  Two players that came off the bench in the cup midweek were the Brazilian duo of Hernandes and Willyan.  Both have been suffering from hamstring issues of late causing them to miss the past two games.  They looked promising and the chemistry between the two on the pitch looked to be developing very well.  Seol has kept to the same starting lineup in his past two games, both of these games have been victories.  He may have to shuffle the pack for Sunday though as forward Kim So-woong came out second best in a tackle last weekend and had to be stretchered off with what looked like an ankle issue.  He has the option of recalling national team striker Lee Jeong-hyeop, or fellow new signing from FC Seoul, Yun Jun-tae who looked impressive midweek, making some very intelligent runs and he never gave the Ulsan back four a moments peace.

Ansan Greeners

Top scorer for Ansan, Kim Ryun-do will be eager to add to his tally this Sunday

The Green Wolves go into the clash with a full week's rest behind them as they didn't compete in the FA Cup midweek.  They will still be without 21-year-old striker Choi Geon-ju.  He must serve the second game of his suspension after picking up a straight red card a fortnight ago against league leaders Jeonnam Dragons.  Choi has been a regular starter for Ansan so he will be missed.  Ansan do boast some real flair players at the top end of the pitch, namely Brazilian Robson and Argentinian striker Sagastizabel.  The latter really caught the eye with a goal of the season contender earlier this month in the 3-2 win over FC Anyang.  Four-goal man Kim Ryun-do will be eager to make amends in this fixture.  Kim was the guilty party as his last-minute spot-kick was saved by Hwang Sung-min in the Gyeongnam net meaning the visitors took home the spoils.   Yeon Jei-min has been extremely impressive, coming in from Suwon FC and taking the captain’s armband from the departed Lee In-jae.  With a solid back-line of Min Jun-yeong, Kim Minho, and Lee Jun-hee alongside Yeon, The Green Wolves' rise to 5th in the league has been no fluke.


What to Watch

Is lightning going to strike twice with Gyeongnam during the summer months?

Gyeongnam had a great summer period last season propelling them into the play-offs

Gyeongnam FC started the 2020 campaign very tentatively only picking up five points in their first four matches and were languishing near the foot of the division coming into the middle of June.  The current season is somewhat mirroring what happened then.  The Reds have on average the oldest squad in the league, but as of late the starting eleven hasn't been showing this,  The blend of experience and youth is vital in the energy-sapping months that lie ahead for Seol Ki-hyeons squad.  Seol is going to add to the squad when the summer transfer window opens soon and the additions that were made last season proved vital.  The feeling around the club is that he wants to freshen things up somewhat and bring some new faces through the door,  

The team have shown some really promising signs of late, playing some very attractive football.  The defense on the whole despite not being able to keep a clean sheet has improved and looks solid and compact.  With the majority of the squad getting back fit and with a few more added once the window opens Seol Ki-hyeon and his squad really feel like they are ready to push up the table.  The energy punishing summer months that are nearly upon us does sort the men out from the boys.  With the added experience in the side of playing in these conditions, like last season could hold Gyeongnam in good stead moving forward.   




Prediction

Gyeongnam and Ansan Greeners sit just a point apart from each other in K League 2.  Both these sides have players to really hurt the defenses if they are not switched on.  The hosts have just started to turn the corner after an indifferent start whereas The Green Wolves started the season well but are currently winless in two games.  This has all the hallmarks to be an entertaining clash.  The first game between the two was a close encounter won by Gyeongnam in stoppage time in the Wa stadium.  This clash could well have a similar outcome, but to who is anyones guess.  



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