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Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Chungnam Asan FC

Play-off hopefuls Gyeongnam FC entertain Chungnam Asan on Saturday afternoon hoping to get their season back on track sooner rather than later.  The Reds' surprisingly lost at home last time out against an improving Ansan Greeners outfit. The Owls hosted promotion candidates Suwon FC on Monday evening.  The game was over by half-time with the away side in the ascendancy scoring two.  This weekends game will be a tight clash with Seol Ki-hyeons' men looking to bounce back after going winless in four matches and dropping out of the play-off places as a result.  KLU's Gyeongnam FC columnist James Edrupt previews the game.

Match: Gyeongnam FC vs Chungnam Asan FC
Venue: Changwon Football Center.  Changwon.
Kick off: September 27th, Sunday; 2020, 16:00 (KST)

Last Time Out

Gyeongnam FC 1-2 Ansan Greeners

The Green Wolves picked up a great victory on the road in Changwon last weekend.  It was a brilliant rearguard action display from Ansan in the second half throwing everything at what Gyeongnam had to offer in attack.

The game started superbly for the hosts racing into the lead through experienced center-forward Park Gi-dong for only his third goal of the campaign after only four minutes.  The way the ball came to him was extremely fortuitous, headed onto his head from Ansan left-back Lee Jun-hee at the back post.  

The visitors were never out of the game and drew level on nineteen minutes through pacey striker Choi Geon-joo.  A quickly taken free-kick from just inside the Greeners half was lofted into the youngsters' path and he outpaced the Gyeongnam defense and rolled the ball calmly under the advancing Son Jung-hyun to equalize.  

It was to get even better for the away side just seven minutes before the break when Brazilian attacking midfielder Canhoto scored his first goal for the club.  It was a classy finish with his left foot after his clever run across the defense was not seen by the home team.  Choi Geon-joo saw his run and slipped it into his path, he took a slight touch out of his feet then curled it into the corner.

Gyeongnam piled on the pressure after the interval with several players guilty of wasting presentable opportunities given to them.  Goalkeeper Kim Sun-woo had a game he will never forget with four or five outstanding saves.  One in particular in injury time with his leg was superb from midfielder Ko Kyung-min, meaning three points traveled north for the Green Wolves.

Chungnam Asan 0-2 Suwon FC

Suwon FC continued their fine form with an away victory against basement dwellers Chungnam Asan on Monday evening courtesy of a brace from South African frontman Lars Veldwijk.

This game was very open from the start with the hosts on the front foot from the first whistle.  They had a few efforts on goal which made Park Bae-jong in goal save his teammates from going behind.  

It was a defensive missed clearance that gifted Suwon the lead after just eleven minutes.  It was expertly finished by the aforementioned Veldwijk, who with defenders all around him managed with the outside of his foot to arch an effort passed Lee Ki-hyun into the far corner.  It was the striker's first goal for his new club since joining from Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the early summer.

Veldwijk then doubled the lead on the stroke of half time after being played through by Japanese strike partner Masatoshi Ishida.  Getting in between two defenders he finished with aplomb past the outstretched legs of Lee Ki-hyun.  It was a killer blow for the hosts as the game was heading into the break finely poised at just 1-0.

The game became extremely niggly after the break with referee Jung Hoe-soo booking five players, three for the Owls, and two for Suwon.  The visitors showed great professionalism to see out Asan in the second half for a very well earnt three points on the road.

Previous Meetings

Since Chungnam Asan have been reformed they have played each other already two times this season.  Asan have won once and Gyeongnam won most recently back in mid-August.  The opening fixture between the two sides ended in a first-ever victory for the newly formed Owls with a 2-1 victory.  Goals from the spot by Philip Hellquist and a low drive from Lee Jae-gun put the host 2 goals to the good.  Baek Sung-dong pulled a goal back with twenty minutes remaining for the visitors.  Asan held on for a memorable first win since they reformed at the start of this campaign.

The most recent fixture on August 16th went to form with Gyeongnam running out quite easy winners 2-0.  Both goals came late in the game through Hwang Il-soo and Baek Sung-dong on 79 and 84 minutes.  

Team News

Dutch striker Luc Castaignos left the club this week after enduring a difficult time on Korean soil

The main talking point out of the Gyeongnam FC camp this week was the termination of Dutchman Luc Castaignos contract.  The former Inter Milan forward had struggled to nail down a starting spot in the starting eleven and has looked a frustrated figure at the club.  When he did start he was always substituted around the 60th-minute mark.  He spent two seasons with the Reds' making 30 appearances tallying five goals.  

Manager Seol Ki-hyeon was rather downbeat after the shock home loss to the then bottom-placed side Ansan Greeners.  He stated, "I thought it was a game we must win today as other results had gone our way.  We were prepared, but as the game progressed I felt burdened and shocked.  I feel sorry for the players as I prepared them this way.  I take full responsibility for this defeat.  I know as the manager of this club I should do better" he concluded.

Team news wise for the Reds' is good.  Most of the squad have been in training all week.  On-loan midfielder, from Jeonbuk Jang Hyuk, who has missed the last two matches is likely to miss out again however with a niggling injury he picked up in training a fortnight ago.  Club captain Ha Sung-min has filled in well in his absence in the middle of the park.  Experienced striker Park Ki-dong marked a return to the starting line-up with a goal last time out and will be looking to keep his place in the side.  The squad have no suspensions to worry about.


The Adversary

Chungnam Asan comes into the clash after the defeat to Suwon FC in good spirits.  They have only lost once in four matches and have won their last two away games against Bucheon FC 1995 and Seoul E-Land.  They undoubtedly play better on the road than at home.

The Owls will still be without the suspended Lee Sang-min who has to sit out again.  He will be available for selection in two weeks.  Swedish striker Philip Hellquist made a welcome return on the bench after being out for four games with a knock on Monday night.  Brazilian Bruno has been key for the Owls in Hellquist's absence playing every minute in every game of late.  He will be a key figure for Asan on Sunday trying to dictate things in the attacking third.  

Manager Park Dong-hyuk would have hoped more from on-loan youngster from Pohang Steelers Kim Chan.  In eighteen appearances he has only scored one goal.  Park would have expected a lot more from a player of his caliber.  Austrian striker Armin Mujakic will lead the line for the Owls.  The forward will be hoping he can make a mark on the game as the Gyeongnam defense have been charitable of late.

What To Watch

The pressure is on now in K League 2 for that playoff berth between four teams it seems, in Daejeon Hana Citizen, Jeonnam Dragons, Seoul E-Land, and Gyeongnam FC.  Just three points separate all four sides.  Just seven games are remaining in the division.  Gyeongnam have to play Seoul E-Land and Daejeon before the season is over.  These two games will be critical to how the teams fair come the end of the campaign.

It really is "squeaky bum time" for these squads.  But just who can hold their nerve and get over the line?  Gyeongnam have a nice blend of experience and youth in and around their ranks.  However, they have been in mixed form of late, not winning in four matches.  They have a very unexperienced manager at this level and on occasions, he can make a rash decision in picking his team and making strange tactical changes that have not helped the team going forward.  Seol Ki-hyeon has said in numerous interviews that he is new to this professional management role.  It's work in progress for him.  The next seven games are crucial for The Reds' starting with a winnable home fixture against Chungnam Asan this Sunday afternoon.

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Gyenongnam will be fully aware of the threats Asan can pose to them.  In the home fixture, last time out The Owls more than held their own until two late goals were their undoing.  The Reds' despite losing last weekend did look good in attack and if for better finishing and a bit of luck would have scored more than one.  

Predicted score: Gyeongnam FC 1-0 Chungnam Asan 

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