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Preview: Chungnam Asan FC vs Gyeongnam FC

Chungnam Asan FC host Gyeongnam FC on Sunday evening with both having suffered cup losses in midweek.  Asan lost by a single goal against Seongnam FC, while Gyeongnam were outclassed by an inspired Jeonnam Dragons outfit by a score of 4-0.  Asan have had a rough time of things in 2020 and are still in search of their first win in K League 2.  Gyeongnam drew with Jeju United last time out in the league and currently in sixth spot, but a win could put them within shouting distance of the leading pack depending on results around the league this weekend.  KLU's Branko Belan previews the match.

Match: Chungnam Asan FC vs Gyeongnam FC
Venue: Yi Sun Shin Stadium
Kickoff: Sunday July 5th, 2020; 19:00 KST

Last Time Out

Seongnam FC 1-0 Chungnam Asan FC (FA Cup 3rd Round)

Asan are now out of the FA Cup after a narrow defeat to Seongnam in midweek.  The winner was scored by Croatian striker Tomislav Kiš in the 31st minute.  The match was mostly uneventful as both sides had few chances at the offensive end and as the match wore on, the Magpies were content to sit on their advantage as Asan could do little moving forward.

Asan is still very much a work in progress, but the fact that Seongnam could only manage a single goal against K League 2's bottom side is potentially even more worrying.  After a very decent start to the season, the Magpies have slipped, and should they be unable to recover soon, it could be a long summer for them.

Jeonnam Dragons 4-0 Gyeongnam FC (FA Cup 3rd Round)

With both teams neck and neck in the league table, many expected this match to be much closer than it was in the end.  The first half lived up to the original billing as neither side could find a way to go in front.  Both teams have struggled in the goals department this season, as Gyeongnam had only scored twelve in eight matches in the league heading into last night.  Jeonnam were even worse, having only scored five times since the beginning of the season, but had only conceded six goals, the lowest of any side in K League 2.

When the Dragons took the lead shortly after the break through Kim Hyeon-wook, there was a sense in the home crowd that they could be able to hold on again and ride their strong back line to a win.  That belief multiplied when Julian Kristoffersen doubled the Dragons' advantage on 61 minutes.  Park Chan-young and newly signed Uzbek international Oleg Zoteev added goals of their own in what turned out to be a rout.  Seol Ki-hyun will have a lot of work to do in order to have his men ready for the weekend following a very unconvincing performance.

Team News

Asan have had problems at both ends of the pitch this season, as they have only scored five goals in eight league matches while conceding fourteen.  What makes it even more confounding is Park Dong-hyuk's insistence to stay with a 3-5-2 formation mostly up until now, but it hasn't really produced results for the club.  As it is their first season as a citizen club, the going has been a bit rough for them, but the losing can't seemingly continue longer than it already has.  

The squad was heavily rotated for the cup match against Seongnam, and the team did an admirable job, but once again fell short of victory.  It must be taken into consideration that about a third of the club consists of U-22 players, so there was bound to be a steep learning curve for them this year.  According to captain Park Se-jik, the younger players in the squad are having such difficulty just adjusting to learning how to be professionals at such a young age.

"They need to learn to follow the older players and interact as a group so that it's easier to build chemistry in the squad.  But, we are not necessarily focused on this year.  We have to look at the longer term and see where we are two years from now and see what sort of progress will have been made in terms of establishing a professional consciousness with the club.  It is only then that we can focus together on results.  Performance is not the number one key this season," he said.

Park Dong-hyuk will most likely keep to his desired formation and the lineup will most likely be similar to the one played in recent matches.  One notable omission is Lee Sang-min, who received a 15 match ban from the league for driving under the influence, as revealed in a press statement from the club, and is likely no longer part of the club's plans even when he does return.

Despite their poor performance in the cup in midweek, Gyeongnam have a chance to make progress up the table if they can get a win this weekend, but that will also depend on how other teams in the upper half of the table fare.

Based on the performance and the result, chances are high that the squad to face Asan will look a lot different than the one which took the pitch in midweek, but the good news is that Negueba is back and got some minutes against Jeonnam, but still may not be 100 per cent.  If that is the case, he will certainly be an option from the bench.

The Adversary

Hwang Il-soo has been one of the most important players for Gyeongnam this season.

Gyeongnam managed quite well in the first half against Jeonnam, but once the first goal went in, things got progressively more difficult.

"I thought it was going to be an easy game, but as it went on, things got harder.  We have not been scoring goals of late, but we are starting to concede more.  Things need to change starting with the match against Asan," Seol Ki-hyun said after the match against Jeonnam.

"I feel like there was something missing from the match, but all was not lost as the players worked hard," he continued.  

"I tried to use it as an opportunity to have a look at some players who have not had a lot of playing time, and to see if they were ready to play in the league.  I thought the tactical setup was good, but our scoring has declined recently, and if you are not scoring goals, then it is possible that a change in tactics may be needed to suit the team's strengths better," he concluded.

It is obvious that changes are coming.  The 3-4-3 has not worked well and so a change of formation could be in the offing for the Reds come this weekend and with it some potential tweaks to the starting eleven.

What to Watch

There shouldn't be much different tactically for Asan, although they could revert to a 4-4-2 depending on who is selected for the starting eleven, but in any case, what is evident is that both teams are struggling to score right now, and judging by results this season, if the current pattern is followed, Asan does not stand much of a chance to win the match as their draws this season have always been followed by losses.

They have also had the problem of conceding goals at critical times in matches, and Gyeongnam certainly do have the quality in their squad to get a desired result from the match.  But, Asan, despite losing to Seongnam, did put up a valiant effort whereas Gyeongnam's second half implosion could have them still reeling ahead of the match on Sunday evening.  The psychology and approach of both teams will be a key factor in how it plays out.

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Gyeongnam will want to do everything possible to take all three points from the match.  They know it is absolutely a necessity if they don't want to lose sight of the teams in front of them in the table.  A lot will depend on tactics, approach, and how well they do in both the offensive and defensive thirds.

Asan have not shown much in terms of scoring potential this season, so it would be difficult to see them being able to get much from the match.  Gyeongnam should be able to get themselves back on track.  They have a lighter stretch ahead compared to most teams, and now would be a good time for them to pick up points if they want to be in the promotion conversation come the end of the season.

Predicted Score: Chungnam Asan FC 0-2 Gyeongnam FC

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