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Preview: Jeju United vs Chungnam Asan FC

Jeju United host Chungnam Asan in K League 2 on Monday night looking for their first win in three matches in an attempt to make up ground on the top two.  Chungnam Asan slipped one spot in the standings to ninth and will look to rebound after playing most of the second half last weekend down to ten men.  Jeju won the first meeting between the sides earlier this season.  Will the islanders be able to get another win, or will things be different this time around?  KLU's Branko Belan previews the match.

Match: Jeju United vs Chungnam Asan FC
Venue: Jeju World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Monday August 10th, 2020; 19:30 KST

Last Time Out

Jeju United 1-1 Jeonnam Dragons

Despite dominating the match for significant stretches, Jeju United could only manage a draw against Jeonnam Dragons in the first of their five home matches in August.  This stretch of the season could have a considerable impact on their promotion hopes, and so by only taking a point from a match in which they were the far better side, some concern is starting to creep in as they once again came up short against one of the top sides in the division this season.  

Park Chan-yong got the visitors off to a good start when he headed in from a free kick on fourteen minutes after some confusion among the Jeju defenders.  Oh Seung-hoon stayed rooted to his goal line as the ball sailed past him into the net.  Jeju would then have a litany of chances to draw level before the break, but could not find a way past Park Jun-hyuk, who has been arguably the best 'keeper in the second division this season.

That would change after the break when Lim Dong-hyuk, normally a central defender, but who started as the main striker for the match, latched on to a cross from the right on 51 minutes and slotted home with a deft touch from close range.  From that point on, both teams would have their share of chances to go on and win it, but neither could find a way through, and both teams shared the spoils at the final whistle.


Chungnam Asan 1-2 Daejeon Hana Citizen

Chungnam Asan could not keep their momentum going after a win the previous week against Seoul E-Land, as they fell at home to Daejeon Hana Citizen.  Daejeon carried most of the play in the first half and had the better chances, finally making a breakthrough on 35 minutes when Kim Sung-seob headed them into the lead.  Daejeon add to their advantage inside the first ten minutes of the second half when they were awarded a penalty after Park Jae-woo brought down Andre Luis in the box.  A VAR review confirmed a straight red card and the Brazilian converted from the spot for his tenth goal of the season.

Asan did not allow themselves to drop completely out of the match and were able to get a goal back on 63 minutes from Philip Hellquist, his fourth in five matches.  The Swede took a cutback from the right and smashed it into the bottom of the net, giving the Owls a lifeline back into the match.  For a spell midway through the second half, it seemed as they would somehow be able to grab an equalizer, but in the end, the Purples were able to hold on for all three points.


Previous Meetings

Jeju and Asan have met on only one occasion earlier this season when Jeju won away by a score of 2-0 in June.  Jung Jo-gook scored the first goal of the match from the penalty spot in the 41st minute, which was his 150th attack point in his K League career, while Lee Chang-min added an insurance goal with a quarter of an hour left.

Jeju had a distinct numbers advantage with 60 per cent of possession on the night, but only two of their nine shots were on target, and that is a number that the islanders are going to have to improve on overall if they expect their goal tally to increase in the coming matches.  It was also quite a physical match, with the sides sharing five yellow cards between them, so it could be an indicator of what is in store when they play on Monday night.

Team News

Nam Ki-il took a bit of a gamble in starting Lim Dong-hyuk as the main striker for the match against Jeonnam.  It did pay off, however, as Lim scored the islanders' only goal of the match in the early stages of the second half.  It may suggest that the manager is currently not very high in confidence with the strikers he currently has at the club, as Joo Min-kyu's production has tailed off considerably after notching four goals earlier in the season.

In fact, Joo has not scored in two months, and Jeju as a club have only managed sixteen goals in twelve matches.  Gong Min-hyun has been the main threat recently, but if Jeju are going to be serious contenders for a title or even promotion down the line, they need to develop more consistency in attack.  The move for Lim up front is unconventional at best, but there was an inkling of it potentially happening after the defender scored against Seoul E-Land in their extra time comeback in the FA Cup.

"I focused on the attack side in my preparations for the match against Jeonnam.  We had a lot of chances to score.  We were able to score a neat goal, but it's a pity we couldn't get the result we wanted in the end.  It was still a satisfactory performance," the manager said after the match.

Nam Ki-il's gamble up front paid off against the Dragons.
He also commented on the performance of his new "striker."

"[Lim Dong-hyuk] is a player who is growing with each match.  He is a competent player.  Since Jeonnam is a team that plays defensively, I thought it would be better to have a tall player up front.  I also hope it will give motivation to the other attacking players," he added.

He lamented the fact that the result of the match was only a draw as it was the first time for the club to play in front of the fans this season, but is optimistic about what is to come.

"I waited a long time to play in front of the fans.  It's a sad draw, but the players still put on a good performance.  They did their best for the fans.  The most important thing right now is to create an atmosphere, whether we are home or away.  We believe in the players."

Elsewhere, with his appearance as a substitute last week, Kang Yoon-sung notched his 100th career K League appearance.  At 23 years and 32 days old, he is one of the youngest players to achieve the feat.  The versatile player, who plays both fullback positions for the U-23 team, has played on eleven occasions for Jeju this season, and look to each opportunity as preparation for next summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo, which were set back one year due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

"I want to leave my footprints in the ground wherever I go.  I'm not interested in personal records; it's more important for the team to score and promotion is a very urgent matter this year.  I am always ready to contribute in whatever way I can and meet the fans' expectations," he said according to a press release from the club.

With the extra rest, there is not expected to be too many changes to the starting eleven, but tactics may be altered somewhat, depending on whether Jeju decide to opt for three or four defenders in the back.  There are no suspensions in the team.  Kim Young-wook returned from his one match ban against Jeonnam and re-took his place in the starting eleven, and is expected to start again on Monday night.  Kim Oh-gyu has quickly cemented himself in defense but has picked up yellow cards in three consecutive matches.  What Nam decides to do about his attacking options remains to be seen, but the islanders have to start producing goals on a regular basis.

Chungnam Asan have several questions to contend with ahead of their trip to Jeju.  Park Jae-woo's straight red card means he will be serving the first of a two match ban, and Lee Sang-min is also unavailable due to his DUI conviction and subsequent suspension which will leave him out of the team's plans likely for the rest of the season.

Armin Mujakic will be back in the squad for the match against Jeju.

Armin Mujakic has not been producing for the Owls on a level that was expected when he was brought in as the club's first ever foreign signing in the winter transfer window.  Compounding this is the fact that despite missing a good portion of the early part of the season, Philip Hellquist has already double the number of goals in comparison to the former Austrian youth international and has emerged as the club's number one scoring threat.  Mujakic was on a suspension last weekend, but should return for the match against Jeju.

Jang Soon-hyuk spent the past two matches on the bench as a substitute and did not see match action, but with Jeju next up, it is quite possible to see him inserted back into the starting eleven.  Up until recently,. he had made eleven consecutive starts, playing a full ninety minutes in each of them, so it may have been necessary to rest him the past few weeks so that he can be fresh for not only the upcoming clash with the islanders but for the month of August when the weather is predicted to be particularly hot.

The Adversary

Philip Hellquist has caught fire for Asan with four goals in his last five matches.

Chungnam Asan put forth a brave fightback after going down to ten men after 54 minutes against Daejeon last time out, and it is a sign they have improved quite a bit since the beginning of the season.  They have begun to establish themselves as a competitive outfit for the other sides in the division and teams are starting to realize that playing against them doesn't necessarily guarantee three points.

The recent upturn in form has not been lost on manager Park Dong-hyuk.

"The players did well to prepare for the match [against Daejeon] and had a good attitude about trying to get a result in the end.  They did their best," he commented.

"At the beginning of the season, we were not winning matches at home or away, so there was a heavy burden because of the results.  But now that we have won a few matches, the players have started to play the way they want to play.  We may have lost the match, but there are possibilities there.  I hope this trend continues.  I would most like to praise the players for their willingness to do it," he finished.

With the return of the fans, he expects there will be better results in the future.

"There will be motivation for the fans to come to the stadium.  If they come to support the players, I think it will lead to better performances."

Following their trip to the island, Asan will be away to Gyeongnam next, then home against Jeonnam Dragons, before finishing out the month with another road test against Bucheon 1995 FC.

What to Watch

Who will start up front for the islanders?  Joo Min-kyu's last goal for the club was on May 31st in a 2-1 away win against Ansan Greeners.  His last goal at home was on May 23rd in a 3-2 loss to Daejeon Hana Citizen.  He has been involved offensively, but his realization in front of goal has fallen off considerably since then.  The division is particularly tight this season with nine points separating the first seven teams in the table.  Dropping points due to a lack of goals at this point in the season is not an option if Jeju wish to remain in the hunt for a move to the top division in 2021.

Defensive lapses, much like the one suffered against Jeonnam have stung them at times this season as well.  With four of their next five this month at home, they have to take every advantage to secure maximum points as much as possible, and one way of going about it would be to take every match one at a time, rather than looking too far ahead into the future.

The fall portion of Jeju's schedule looks particularly daunting - preparation for that stretch must begin now.  The conditions at the club this season have been much improved in comparison to 2019, so they need to take advantage of the talent they have at their disposal and cement themselves as a contender.  The players are aware of what is at stake - they know that anything short of promotion would be considered a failure.  Execution is critical to results - they need to take a step in that direction beginning on Monday night.

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It is quite obvious there is much more for Jeju to play for in this match.  They put on a good showing against Jeonnam with their constant pressure moving forward, but that must translate into goals.  Asan have shown, though, that they are no longer a doormat for the rest of the teams in the league.  They will show up to play and make things difficult for the islanders.  However, if the Tangerines grasp the magnitude of where they are at this point in the season, it could put them over the finish line in terms of taking three points from the match.

Getting back to winning ways is of utmost importance for them at the moment.  The fact Ansan beat Suwon last weekend was a lucky stroke - they may not have that sort of luck smile on them again this season, so they must make the most of their opportunities to win matches.  It could potentially be tighter than most may think, but Jeju should be able to pull it out in the end.

Predicted Score: Jeju United 2-1 Chungnam Asan FC

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