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Preview: Gangwon FC vs Pohang Steelers


After three consecutive defeats, Gangwon FC will be hoping they can address their slide in form when they host Pohang Steelers. The away side will be coming into this fixture with confidence, though, following their dramatic 3-2 victory against Daejeon Hana Citizen.


Recent Form

After a mini upturn in form, Gangwon have found themselves in the midst of another rough patch, losing their last three matches without even managing to score a goal. Most recently, the Bears suffered a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of bottom-placed Suwon Samsung Bluewings, meaning they may just have to start looking over their shoulders going forward.

As for Pohang, they managed to put an end to their three game winless run by defeating Daejeon Hana Citizen 3-2 courtesy of a 92nd minute Goh Young-jun winner. As such, the Steelers will have their confidence back ahead of Sunday, where they will be looking to keep pace with their fellow Champions League hopefuls.

Team News

Fortunately for Choi Yong-soo, he has a relatively healthy squad at his disposal now. Only Lee Jeong-hyeop is expected to be out through injury, while Lee Seung-won has to miss out through his U20 World Cup commitments.

On the other hand, Pohang come into proceedings with some issues. Jung Jae-hee is likely to remain out, and the weekend may still come to soon for the returning Kim Jong-woo and Park Seung-wook. Elsewhere, Wanderson remains a fitness concern, but Ha Chang-rae and Kim In-sung are in line for returns.

Head-to-Head

Typically, this is a match which favours Pohang. Sunday's away side have won 16 of the 31 meetings, and lost on just six occasions. Gangwon's last victory in this fixture came in September of 2021, their only triumph in the last 12 encounters between the two sides. Nevertheless, the Bears did manage a respectable 1-1 draw against Kim Gi-dong's men in March, so could have some level of belief going into the weekend.

What to Watch

Pressure on Choi Yong-soo?

It's been a long, hard season for Gangwon. Injury/fitness issues haven't helped, nor have the unfortunate conditions at Chuncheon, but ultimately if you only manage two wins out of your opening 13 games, you can't argue with finding yourself in some sort of danger. That's the position the Bears are in currently, with Choi Yong-soo's counter-attacking brand of football failing to inspire results in the same way it did in the second-half of last campaign.

Of course, there might be hope that the 49-year-old can turn things around in the same manner as before, though this time around things do feel different. Gangwon currently look noticeably blunt, occasionally out of ideas, and generally low on confidence. So, with that in mind, Choi Yong-soo could well find himself under pressure if he fails to catalyse a sharp upswing in form, beginning on Sunday.

Will Pohang correct their away form?

As Pohang continue their broadly successful season, they will be seeking some better fortune on the road. For Kim Gi-dong's men are presently without a win on their travels since the beginning of April (a 2-1 triumph over Jeonbuk), so will certainly be aware of the need to ensure things are tightened up away from the Steelyard.

Up against Gangwon, a team Pohang have beaten four times in their last six meetings, it does seem like an opportune time for the away side to score a potentially vital victory. Yet one concern will be the fact the Steelers actually haven't won when visiting the Bears' home turf since March 2021.

Who to Watch

Yang Hyun-jun

When Gangwon did manage to get their two wins this campaign, no player was more important than Yang Hyun-jun. His excellently placed late winner in the match against Jeonbuk highlighted why the youngster grabbed so many headlines last year, while his key assist (and overall excellent wing play) against FC Seoul earlier that same week allowed the 20-year-old to pick up his first goal contribution of 2023.

On Sunday, Choi Yong-soo will again need to rely on Yang Hyun-jun to show his true quality, for it could be the difference maker.






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