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Daegu FC attempt first win of season ahead of tough period

Struggling Daegu FC will host promoted side Jeju United this Saturday in a series of tough tests lined up for the next four rounds. Can the Sky Blues bounce back from midweek's heavy defeat, or remain low-key at home? K League United's Daegu FC correspondent Muyeol Jung previews the clash.

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Daegu FC
Utter silence descending at DGB Daegu Bank Park was ripped apart by the referee's final whistle, immediately followed by a massive boo from two thousand home fans in the stands. With this midweek's 4-1 defeat at home, the Sky Blues have only earned one point from the first three games that seemed the most winnable. After the game, many fans will be swept with feelings and fear that they were used to before recent successes.

As it stands, everything looks completely shambolic and it's hard to see how and what to fix first. On the pitch, there's no sense of togetherness, nor leadership formed among the players. Defence is extremely fragile to withstand any threat, while attacking is dull and flat.

On top of these, the club and players are heavily affected by teammate Jung Seungwon's off-field issue as exceptionally manager Lee Byunggeun publicly spoke to the press that he can't deny it wasn't a factor and he hopes the matter will be solved in a positive way as soon as possible.

Jeju United
Nam Ki-il's Jeju United are smoothly settling into top flight football with five points from three games and enjoying their unbeaten run so far.

However, their ability to score is a bit of concern. They have only scored two goals and they came from winger Ahn Hyunbeom and wing back Jung Woon, but their strikers haven't responded yet. On a positive note, Polish striker Oskar Zawada made his first full start midweek and looked dangerous in front of goal.

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The hosts still have notable players out; towering strikers Edgar and Park Gidong and defender Hong Jungwoon are out with injuries, while Kim Wooseok (suspected injury) and Jung Seungwon (contractual problem) are unlikely to feature.

There aren't many options available for the gaffer to make alterations to the line-up, but the most likely change would be the goalkeeper. Choi Young-eun can't be to blame for all goals conceded, but he doesn't look as convincing as it should be. As a result, this Saturday Mun Kyeonggun might be given a start between the sticks.

The visitors will have Jin Seong-wook back from suspension after his red card on the opening game. Goalkeeper Oh Seung-hoon should re-take his place in goal after rotation in midweek game that saw Yu Yeon-su record a clean sheet in his first K League 1 start.

Jeonnam youth product Kim Young-wook remains doubtful for the weekend. Former Gwangju captain Yeo Reum picked up a leg injury last time out and is a doubt. Accordingly, there is a chance that Gerso Fernandes might start as he was an unused sub last time out.

On Polish striker Zawada, our Jeju writer Branko says: "Its an indicator of Nam Ki-il looking at his main striking options with Joo Min-kyu still not able to get on the score sheet in the first three matches. Kim Kyung-jae could be considered for the starting eleven if injuries are worse than first expected". 

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What to Watch

Lack of leadership on the pitch
There are a lot of questions asked for Daegu FC, but first things first. There's no actual leader seen on the pitch who can keep the lads be united and resolved and command the game for our own. Most starters are either far away from being influential or less experienced and young like Lee Jinyong.

If they had been able to hold onto 1-0 lead a bit longer, the game could have gone differently. The boss also expressed his thought on this by saying in the post match interview "We were so poor in controlling the game and I think we now come to the point to think handing the veterans [Lee Keunho or Lee Yongrae] more time [or start] for better game management".

Daegu defenders (white) left with no options from midfielders or wing backs led to Incheon's winner in R2  (courtesy of K League YouTube)
The introduction of veterans could be crucial in order to turn things around when the team are shaking. Particularly starting Lee Yongrae could massively improve the build up and screening. At the moment, midfielder duo Tsubasa and Park Hanbin don't provide any positive effect defensively and offensively, but leave the back three vulnerable. Moreover, Lee Yongrae can read the game and command young players as well as connecting the defence to attacking in the build up.

Meanwhile, at the other end, on a positive note, captain Kim Jinhyuk continues to score for the Sky Blues despite playing at the back. Also, Jung Chiin looked a lot better in the Gwangju game and grew into the game with some extent of partnership with Cesinha and Ahn Yongwoo. He also played a bit part in Kim Jinhyuk's goal by forcing a save from Yoon Bosang with a great header.

Time to take revenge on Daegu for relegation?
In 2019 season when Jeju were relegated to K League 2 at the end of the season, the Sky Blues and the Tangerines went head to head three times and the Sky Blues remained unbeaten with a historic 2-0 win on the opening day of their new stadium thanks to second half goals from Kim Daewon and Edgar. Later, the Sky Blues drew with the Oranges twice, stopping them from getting out of relegation zone.

Perhaps, it may be the best time to take revenge on them. This season Jeju try to press as high as possible and dispossess the opponent and complete their attack as simple as possible. In midweek's 1-0 win over Pohang, this type of play stood out most as they forced errors from goalkeeper or defenders by pressing high and ruthlessly exploited. Jung Woon's blast in the Pohang game is the perfect example.

Jeju United (in orange kit) start to press high up front, forcing errors or misplaced passes from defenders or goalie (courtesy of K League YouTube)
This strategy could be still the key for this weekend's clash as Daegu's back three is often left cut off, exposed without any support.

Who to Watch

Lee Keunho (Daegu FC)
After 13 years, Lee Keunho returns to Daegu where he developed into a national team player in 2007.
Two times AFC Champions League winner Lee Keunho made his 300th K League appearance last time out by coming off the bench and achieved an honourable milestone in the league. This season, he hasn't yet recorded any goal or assist to his name in Daegu, but his presence itself is pleasant to many fans. It's worth to note that he is not just loved because of his successful career but for his commitment and sacrifice on the pitch.
Lee Keun-ho makes an exceptional defensive run and clearance off the line (Courtesy of K League Facebook)
There were a few moments the spectators got to applaud and one of those few was when the 1985 year-born attacker cleared the ball off the line in an empty goal after he made a sprint from the other side of the field.

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