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Preview: Sangju Sangmu vs Jeju United

Preview: Sangju Sangmu vs Jeju United K League 1 Round 15
Both teams will be going into the match off of losses when Sangju Sangmu host Jeju United this coming weekend.  Jeju were outclassed at home by Ulsan Hyundai last time out, while Sangju were blanked 2-0 away to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.  With the season now entering the summer phase, the islanders don't have a lot of time to salvage something from what has been an underwhelming season thus far.  Sangju, meanwhile, will hope to keep themselves in the thick of the hunt for the top half of the table with a trio of teams on their tails looking to position themselves as things return to full swing following the international break.  KLU's Branko Belan previews Sunday evening's match.

Match: Sangju Sangmu vs Jeju United
Venue: Sangju Civic Stadium
Kickoff: Sunday, June 16th, 2019; 19:00 KST

Last Time Out

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2-0 Sangju Sangmu

Jeonbuk secured a clean sheet at home against a Sangju side which has been quite impressive for most of the season, but who could do very little to challenge the defending champions who now once again sit on top of the league after their latest success.

Sangju managed to keep things scoreless after a half, but second half strikes from Moon Seon-min in the 56th minute and Lee Dong-gook in the third minute of injury time were enough to see off the military side, despite being down a man to a Kim Jin-su red card after only twenty-five minutes.  It was also the second clean sheet for the men in green against the side currently in fifth, so Sangju would like nothing more than to get another win against a team they have yet to lose to this season.

Highlights: here

Jeju United 1-3 Ulsan Hyundai

Jeju were no match at home against Ulsan Hyundai, who have slipped to second on goal difference recently, but kept up their great form against an opponent which has given them quite a few headaches in recent years.

Jeju lost its second consecutive match against Ulsan in the process, thanks to a pair of first half goals from Mix Diskerud and Kim Dong-gyeong, and a third in second half injury time from Kim Bo-kyung after Elias Aguilar had pulled one back for Jeju in the final minute of regular time.  With the top eight teams creating distance with the teams at the foot of the table, there is little time to make up ground if things are going to improve for a team that has only won twice this season.  Only goal difference is keeping them out of the cellar at this point, and they badly need a win if things are going to turn in a positive direction.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Sangju have had the edge this season, winning 3-2 in the league and also advancing past Jeju on penalties in the FA Cup.  Last season saw the sides play out some very tight matches, as in three encounters a total of two goals were shared between them.  

Jeju have looked suspect defensively this season, and Lee Chang-keun has not enjoyed the best form compared to 2018, so Sangju could once again be in for a few goals.  The question is whether Jeju will be able to answer if they go behind playing on the road.

Team News

Neither team has any suspensions to consider, although Yoon Bit-garam did pick up a yellow in the match against Jeonbuk.  As he is one of Sangju's key players, he should be expected to start.

Jeju will be a few men short for the weekend contest, as Elias Aguilar was called up by the Costa Rican national team for the Gold Cup, and Lee Kyu-hyuk is with the Korean U-20 national team at the World Cup in Poland, and will not be available for selection this weekend as Korea prepare to face Ukraine in the final on early Sunday morning at 1 am Korean time.

With those factors in mind, the expectation is that both managers will field their strongest possible elevens, and that would be in the best interests for Choi Yun-kyum in particular, as his recent experiments have fallen short.  He will still have the likes of Yun Il-lok, Kim Ho-nam, Magno and Tiago to start for him, and Jeong Woo-jae should have had enough time off to rest with the international break.  If he is able to start at left back, then Jeju will likely go with four defenders, but if not, Kim Dong-woo and Aleks Jovanovic will be two likely starters with a third to be determined prior to the match, possibly Kim Seung-woo or Kim Won-il, who has seen more action recently.

Finally, former defender Cho Yong-hyung has returned to the team as a player-coach according to a press release from the club.  It is contended that his role will focus most on making players more competitive as well as to build synergy within the squad.  The hope is that his presence will have a positive impact not only on the veterans at the club, several of whom he played with until last season, but also the younger players who still have much to learn about the professional culture of football.

Cho is someone who knows the club very well, as he began with the club back in 2005 in their final year of existence as Bucheon SK, before the club relocated to Jeju the following year.  He spent his entire career with the organization. 

The Adversary


Sangju's results have been mixed since the beginning of May, winning twice, drawing once, and losing three times.  They flew out of the gate early in the season and even had a short spell at the top of the league, but things have begun to come back to reality recently.  

The club is still in the top half this late in the season, which is an accomplishment for them, and they have a chance to pick up points once more against a club whom they have had success in 2019, so they would like to get back to winning ways at home this weekend.

Yoon Bit-garam is their best player overall.  The former Jeju man has brought a lot of stability to the midfield this season.  However, it is Park Yong-ji who has been turning a lot of heads as well with six goals to his name this campaign through the spring portion.  He also scored last time out against the islanders and would like to add to his tally, as he sits only one off the league pace currently set by FC Seoul's Aleksandar Pešić.

Prediction

Jeju have another task ahead of them going on the road to open the summer section of the schedule.  How they play in the first twenty minutes of the first half has been indicative of their overall performance in a lot of matches so far this year.  Consistency has been a problem mostly because the starting elevens have shifted formations and personnel for much of the season, and it has affected their play for long stretches.

Sangju can be confident of a result on Sunday if they stick to the high tempo approach which saw them win on the island the first time these two met in the league at the end of April.  They are a capable side when they play to their strengths, but coming out of the international break may see them throw a bit of caution into their approach depending on how the early stages of the match play out.

If form holds true, Sangju will have the edge in this one, but with both just a bit out of match rhythm, it could end with both teams taking a share of the spoils.

Predicted Score: Sangju Sangmu 1-1 Jeju United

See also: K League 1 Round 15 Preview

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