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Preview: Asan Mugunghwa vs Busan IPark

It will be the third installment of Asan-Busan when the sides meet at Yi Sun Shin Stadium on Sunday night.  Both have scored resounding victories already, with Busan winning the first match by a score of 5-2 while Asan won 4-2 the last time these two sides met.  It will be the final match in an Asan shirt for Ko Mu-yeol, who is getting ready to return to Jeonbuk Hyundai in just over a week's time.  Several others are also on the outs as a total of twelve players will leave the club after finishing their military duty, meaning the club will look quite a bit different for the rest of the season following Sunday's match.  KLU's Branko Belan previews this all important K League 2 clash.

Match: Asan Mugunghwa vs Busan IPark
Venue: Yi Sun-sin Stadium
Kickoff: Sunday August 4th, 2019; 20:00 KST

Last Time Out

Daejeon Citizen 0-1 Asan Mugunghwa

The second meeting between the two clubs this season was once again a tight affair that went to the half goalless after neither side was able to put on a convincing performance in the first half.  Asan would hit the front thanks to Ko Mu-yeol's twelfth of the season after he turned Lee Myung-joo's right wing cross into the net with a volley from close range, at it was all the defending champions would need to hang on to all three points.

The final quarter of an hour gave reason for some concern as Asan struggled to maintain possession of the ball, and almost conceded a late equalizer.  Things just got a lot more congested in the top half of the table, with Ansan Greeners now only a point behind Asan along with Suwon FC.  However, Asan will be undergoing some major changes following the match against Busan, so how the rest of the season will play out for them is anyone's guess.

Highlights: here

Ansan Greeners 2-0 Busan IPark

Busan fell to defeat against Ansan, who are really starting to turn some heads with their recent play.  The gap at the top of the K League 2 table is now nine points as Gwangju defeated Suwon FC to pad their lead a bit more.  Despite having more possession of the ball, they couldn't make it work for them as they only managed four shots on target the entire match.  Finishing the match with two men sent off for receiving double yellows did very little to help matters, as both Kim Moon-hwan and Hwang Jun-ho received their marching orders in the second half.

Ansan on the other hand, made better use of their time on the ball, and got goals from Gustavo Vintecinco after fifteen minutes in the first half, and Jin Chang-su late in second half injury time.  With two key players now missing for the match against Asan, there is a great danger that Gwangju will now roll to the K League 2 title unimpeded this season, as there is little chance of any team being able to catch them now.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

The teams have met twice this season, and both have one win each.  In the first meeting of the season, Busan exacted a heavy defeat on the defending champions, marching off with a 5-2 victory thanks to a double sending off and Busan's offensive firepower completely overwhelming them as a result.  Kim Jun-su and Lee Han-saem were both given early exits for rash challenges and Park Dong-hyuk's men could not recover.  Lee Jeong-hyeop had a brace in his pocket after only ten minutes, while Rômulo, Kwon yong-hyun and Diego Mauricio also found their way to the back of the net.  Ko Mu-yeol and Lee Myung-joo scored for Asan.

Things were much different the last time around as it was Asan's turn to exact a bit of revenge.  In perhaps their most convincing performance of the season, it finished 4-2 with Yang Tae-ryeol taking center stage as he scored a pair of goals, while Ju Se-jong and Kim Re-oh added singles.  Soma Novothny and Lee Jeong-hyeop scored for IPark.

Team News

It will be the end of an era on Sunday night, as a total of twelve players will be playing their final match for Asan.  They are on the cusp of completing their military service, and are preparing to return to their parent clubs.  The list is as follows:

Lee Han-saem and Im Chang-gyun - Suwon FC
Ko Mu-yeol - Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Cho Beom-seok - Bucheon 1995 FC
Kim Seon-min and Kim Dong-jin - Daegu FC
Yang Hyung-mo - Suwon Bluewings
Kim Do-hyuk - Incheon United
Choi Bong-jin - Gwangju FC
Kim Jun-su - Jeonnam Dragons
Kim Ji-un and Ahn Hyun-beom - Jeju United
Ju Se-jong and Lee Myung-joo - FC Seoul

This, of course, means that the bulk of last year's team will now be gone, and the full transition to becoming a citizen club will go into full swing.  Park Dong-hyuk also has to keep in mind that Ju Se-jong and Lee Myung-joo will be discharged in September, so the complexion of the team will be changing very rapidly in the near future.  The head man at Asan is one of the best coaches in Korean football at the moment, and will find a way to create a new image for the club although it will not be easy.  There is also the possibility that clubs will come calling in the winter to inquire about the talent that is still at the club following the transition.

There are some new names coming into the squad, however.  Among them are Park Se-jik, who rejoins the club after spending the first half of the year with Incheon United.  He was a key figure for Asan last season and his presence in the midfield will help to settle them following the loss of several key names in the middle of the park.  Jeong Da-hwon spent the first half of the season with Gwangju FC and has played for Asan before.  His K League 1 experience will be a major asset as the club looks to stabilize quickly at the back.  Kim Do-yeop also joins from Seongnam FC, and will look to assert himself as an attacking presence on the left side, as he also did for Jeju United on occasion last season.  Kim Kyung-woo also joins on loan from Gangwon FC where he didn't get playing time, but will look to build his experience with Asan.

In terms of the match itself, Ju Se-jong will miss out because of card accumulation, but all other players should be available for selection.  The starting eleven will be amped up so that the players who are leaving the club can go out with a win.

For Busan, Kim Moon-hwan and Hwang Jun-ho will not be available for Busan as they both were sent off after receiving two yellows each against Ansan.  Lee Jeong-hyeop went off with an injury and that means that Soma Novothny will most likely start up front.  It would be a good bet considering he scored against Asan the last time the two sides met.

Kim Myeong-jun and Aleksandar Šušnjar will likely occupy the middle of the defensive line.  Park Joon-gang has been steady at right back when he has had to fill in for Kim, and could pose an attacking threat on that side if he gets forward on a consistent basis.  If he performs well, he may even get a run of games, as Kim hasn't had a particularly good season, and has been more effective in a role as an attacking winger.

Finally, if Busan decides to go with a three-man midfield, there may be a decision to make between Seo Yong-duk and Kim Jin-kyu.  Kim is the more technically skilled player, but, according to Todd Wilde, Seo may be the better fit for the team.

The Adversary

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The loss to Ansan and the way it happened most certainly came as a shock to IPark, who until recently were mounting a serious title challenge to Gwangju FC, but things have fallen off the pace in the past few weeks.  They were only able to manage a draw two weeks ago against Bucheon FC despite being up a man for the last half hour after Gam Han-sol was sent off in the second half.

Kim Jong-hyuk's own goal in second half stoppage time was a back breaker for them, as they were forced to settle for a point instead of taking all three as they likely should have.  Things likely will not get much easier this weekend considering the gravity of the match and what it will mean to the Asan players, but the sense now is that a run at a title and the automatic promotion that comes with it is now out of the question entirely based on Busan's recent form, but they are still capable of spoiling what is sure to be an emotional sendoff for the departing Asan players.

Prediction

If there is anything that is true about Sunday night's match, it's that there will be a lot of pride on the line for the Asan contingent getting ready to leave.  This team won a championship together last season, and they would like nothing more than to have one last run out for old time's sake and get a win to cap off what has been a memorable time for all of them in the yellow and blue.

Busan will be short-handed, and their form has dipped a bit recently, so it may be difficult to see how they will get up for this match.  However, the possibility of being twelve points off the summit at the end of the night may be the motivation they need to go out and put together a winning performance.  

Both teams are likely to put up a fight, as both teams have something on the line, but the magnitude of the occasion just may tip the scales in Asan's favor.  With the future shrouded in some uncertainty, a win on Sunday night may be the only acceptable result for them to take from the match.  They also need to rebound from finishing badly against Daejeon.  A win for Park Dong-hyuk in their final match under him is ideally how they would like to go out.

Predicted Score: Asan Mugunghwa 3-2 Busan IPark

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