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Preview: Incheon United vs. Gwangju - Incheon out for Revenge



It has been a busy week for Incheon United off the field following fan unrest at the end of last Sunday’s scoreless draw at home to Hyundai Jeonbuk Motors. Following the game, during which a banner was displayed calling for coach Jo Sunghwan’s departure, a water bottle was thrown from the stand towards the coaching staff, narrowly missing the manager. What followed has been a series of statements from the club and several fan groups denouncing the actions of the fan. This culminated on Thursday evening with an open meeting between the manager and the fans during which the team’s performance this season, the tactics used and the manager’s position were discussed.


Recent Form

With this cloud hanging over the club, the team have to pick themselves up and prepare for this weekend’s visit from Gwangju. The last time the two teams met, Incheon were humbled 5-0 in what was one of the club’s worst performances in recent years. The pressure is on this weekend to gain a measure of revenge for that result, as the club sit in tenth in the league and have been struggling for form in recent games. Compounded by successive defeats against Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Gangwon, Incheon’s sole victory in the last five games was a win over ten-man Pohang. Another poor result this weekend, or even an unsatisfactory performance, could see Jo forced to leave the club.
 
On the plus side, Gwangju themselves are in a run of form worse than Incheon’s. Winless in six, and sitting bottom of the form table, Lee Junghyo’s men have picked up just two points since their last victory on 16 April. With this in mind, this game could be the ideal opportunity for Incheon to turn around their fortunes.
 
 

Team News


One of the complaints about Jo Sunghwan this season has been goalkeeper rotation. Incheon have used three goalkeepers so far in their thirteen games, and have switched between Lee Taehee and Min Seongjun in recent weeks. It appears that Min Seongjun is injured, hence the selection of Taehee in the recent Jeju United and Jeonbuk games, although this hasn’t been confirmed by the club. One would expect Lee Taehee to continue in goal this week.
 
Further up the field, Lee Myeongju is back in the starting line-up. He returned from injury against Jeju and played in a more advanced position against Jeonbuk, replacing Gerso in the front line. Moon Jihwan came into the middle of the par, filling the hole left by Lee Myeongju. Given the importance of the game, it is likely that Gerso will return to the XI, meaning Lee Myeongju dropping back and Moon Jihwan taking a place on the bench.

Reasons to Watch


This weekend’s game features two teams whose season has been relatively disappointing this season. Despite odd flashes of promise, both teams have struggled to match preseason expectations. Gwangju ran away with K League 2 last season and started this year with four wins in seven games. Their blistering start slowly subsided and since then, they have struggled for points and goals; losing four of their last six games and scoring only two goals along the way.

It’s been even less rosy for Incheon, despite the high expectations following last year’s fourth-placed finish. A slow start, registering only three wins all campaign, punctuated by poor performances and untimely defeats along the way. Fans of the Blue-Black are particularly frustrated with the 5-0 reverse in this season’s first meeting with Gwangju, the manner in which the team handed Suwon Bluewings their first win of the season and various lacklustre performances across the spring. This week’s drama will only add to the tension going into Saturday afternoon’s game, in what is considered a must-win for under-fire Incheon coach Jo Sunghwan. 

The continued absence of top scorer Cheon Seonghoon due to injury in addition to the misfiring front line is only putting the fans more on edge. A win this weekend for the home side could see tensions lowered, but if Gwangju turn up and put in a shift as they did in the reverse fixture, all bets are off. 

Head to Head




Incheon and Gwangju have met 27 times in all competitions, with Incheon holding six victories to Gwangju’s nine. Incheon have scored 26 goals to Gwangju’s 37 goals. Incheon haven’t kept a clean sheet against Gwangju since a 0-0 draw in 2017. The last two games between the clubs have ended in an 11-1 aggregate scoreline to this weekend’s visitors, thanks to Gwangju’s 5-0 victory earlier this season, and a 1-6 reverse in Incheon in last year’s FA Cup.

FNR

Where to Watch

Fans inside Korea can watch games on Coupang Play. Fans overseas can watch this game for free on K League TV. Fans in countries with K League overseas broadcasting rights can also follow the game live on their television.


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