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Islanders Travel to Suwon Looking to Build on Midweek Success

A season ago, they fought neck and neck in the second division for title honors and automatic promotion.  This season has seen Suwon FC come out on the better end of things against Jeju United, winning both previous encounters in 2021 between the sides.  Jeju finally snapped a twelve match unbeaten run with a midweek win against FC Seoul while Suwon FC had their six match unbeaten string snapped courtesy of a loss to Pohang Steelers last time out.  The islanders, despite their struggles, would pull level on points with their opponents with a win.  KLU's Branko Belan looks ahead to the match.

Match: Suwon FC vs Jeju United
Venue: Suwon World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday August 21st, 2021; 20:00 KST

Recent Form

Suwon FC Brought Back to Earth

Suwon FC had themselves on a great run of form going back to the month of May after a slow start to the season until they were given a strict lecture courtesy of Pohang Steelers last weekend to the tune of a 3-1 loss.  During their six match unbeaten run, they amassed victories over city rivals Suwon Bluewings in the Suwon Derby, as well as a very convincing 5-2 thrashing of Ulsan Hyundai and a narrow 1-0 success over Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.  

In their past two matches, the attack has not looked as potent, however, as they fought to a goalless stalemate against Incheon United and could only manage one goal against Pohang.  They will have the ability to make life difficult for Jeju though, having beaten them on two previous occasions this year.  Kim Do-kyun's men will be hoping for a good result this weekend ahead of the latest installment of the Suwon Derby on August 25th before an away trip to Jeonbuk next weekend.

Islanders Finally Back in the Win Column

After falling to ninth in the table, Jeju United finally managed a win on Wednesday night against FC Seoul to nudge up a spot in the standings and finally bring an end to their worst run of the season.  Consequently, the last time they won was also against the team from the capital all the way back in April.  It wasn't the most convincing performance, particularly in the second half when they had to endure several spells of pressure but Oh Seung-hoon made a couple of critical saves, including one late on to preserve the result.

They are not out of the woods yet.  There are winnable matches on their schedule against Gangwon FC and FC Seoul once again, while the away trip to Gwangju on September 18th could be critical to their chances of positioning themselves in the table ahead of the final rounds, when the league splits in two following the final fixtures of the regular season on October 24th.

Team News

Suwon FC

Suwon FC did a bit of business in the summer transfer window, with some of their new signings finding a spot in the starting eleven already since their arrival.  Brazilian striker Tardeli, who previously played for BG Pathum United in Thailand, partnered with Lars Veldwijk, the team's leading scorer with thirteen goals last time out.  Lachlan Jackson arrived from A League side Newcastle Jets and was in the center of a three man back line against Pohang but may still need some time to adjust to the K League.

The only major injury concern for Suwon is Yoon Young-sun, who has only made six appearances for the team this year.  He has been out for an extended period of time because of a pelvic injury, and an earlier prognosis stated he could return this month but due to a lack of match fitness due to the long layoff, he will not be seeing match action for the foreseeable future.  Park Joo-ho returns from suspension and should be included in the starting eleven but there could be a few lineup changes based on the result last time out.

Jeju United

Jeju United's win against FC Seoul was their first in almost four months after a stretch of seven draws and five losses dating back to April.

Manager Nam Ki-il sounded a bit more optimistic after the final whistle.

"We won for the first time in a long time.  Both I and the players have been through a difficult period.  The win will give them more confidence going forward.  I thought it was a match that we could win and the players worked hard until the end of the match.  For that, I am thankful to them," he said.

Nam Ki-il is hoping the midweek success will set the team back in the right direction.
Kim Bong-su scored the only goal of the match against FC Seoul, the second time he has scored against them this season.  Nam pointed to his contribution in the win.

"So much is focused on Joo Min-kyu.  If another player scores a goal, we can play our game much more easily.  Kim Bong-su scored against Seoul the last time we played them and I thought he might be able to do it again.  He played with confidence and gave all he had to help us win the match," he added.

 Nam also alluded to the team's overall performance of late.

"There were matches in the past when we played well enough to win but we couldn't limit our mistakes at key times and it cost us in a lot of matches.  Against Seoul, we were able to cut down on such errors and get a result."

He hinted that there will be some rotation in the starting eleven for the match on Saturday but was not specific about personnel changes.  With three matches in a short space of time following their trip to Suwon, it will be an imperative to keep the team as fresh as possible.

Things on the injury front remain unchanged as Ahn Hyun-beom is still out and Lee Jung-moon return to action is still up in the air.  Kwon Han-jin recently sustained a nasal bone fracture but has continued to play.  He played sixty-three minutes in midweek, only the fourth time this season he hasn't played a full ninety minutes.  He should be available for the match but may be rested with such a tight schedule over a short time.

What to Watch

Can Jeju Record Consecutive Wins for Just the Second Time This Season?

Joo Min-kyu is joint top scorer in the first division this season but the islanders need results.
Three consecutive wins early in the season against Suwon Bluewings, Incheon United, and FC Seoul had things looking in the right direction for the islanders but then their luck took a turn for the worse.  Halting a lengthy winless streak will definitely be a positive shot in the arm for them but they will have to work even harder if they are to put a string of good results together down the final stretch.

The matches against Incheon and Jeonbuk stand out as the ones where they could have some difficulty in terms of the strength of the opponent but the rest of the fixtures look like potential for points.  The most important factor presently is for the players to turn their outlook forward and leave what was a sour patch on the schedule behind; it is the only way they will be able to continue to get results in the future.  With clubs around them winning matches in recent weeks, they will have to develop a model of consistency and execution to give themselves a chance to secure their first division status for next season.

There will be a lot of work ahead but they certainly have the talent to do it.  Keeping their focus in the next several months will be important to any success they achieve.

Who to Watch

Lars Veldwijk - Suwon FC

Lars Veldwijk has been one of the more dominant players in K League 1 this season.
The South African is currently joint-top scorer in the first division along with Joo Min-kyu on thirteen goals but his five assists are what makes him stand out even more.  It was only a matter of time before he would find his scoring form but his contributions as a playmaker have opened up the offensive scheme for Suwon FC in great ways this season, allowing his teammates around him to also be involved.  Murilo has four goals and seven assists and has been a presence as an attacking central midfielder and Yang Dong-hyen has contributed five goals this campaign.  Lee Yeong-jae has also chipped in a pair of goals along with five assists.  One can make the argument it has a lot to do with how Veldwijk has influenced their offensive play.

He scored in both previous wins against Jeju earlier this season and will look to take the outright scoring lead when the sides meet this weekend.  He has been kept scoreless in his last three appearances, though after a tear in form which included a four goal outburst against Ulsan Hyundai saw him register twelve goals and three assists over a ten match span.  He will look to find that form again in hopes of his side notching another three points and keeping hopes for a top half finish alive.


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