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Islanders Aiming for Second Win Against Gwangju This Weekend

Jeju United's return to K League 1 has been successful to a degree as they have successfully navigated the first five matches of their schedule going unbeaten in the process having to go up against the likes of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Pohang Steelers, and Ulsan Hyundai in the process.  They have looked strong defensively thanks to the exploits of their back three, but still need to get the wheels turning in the attacking third to re-establish themselves in the first division as a credible threat.  Up next, they face Gwangju FC on Saturday afternoon looking to record their second win of the season.  KLU's Branko Belan looks ahead to the match.

Match: Jeju United vs Gwangju FC
Venue: Jeju World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday, March 20th, 2021; 14:00 KST

Recent Form

Islanders Unbeaten in Five to Open the Season

One certainly could not have predicted that Jeju would open the season without defeat in their first five matches, considering the quality of competition they have had to face thus far, with last season's top two, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Ulsan Hyundai already on the schedule, not to mention a home date against Pohang Steelers on Matchday Three.  But, they have managed to weather the storm thus far, with three clean sheets and only two conceded goals over that stretch.  Jung Woon, Kwon Han-jin, and Kim Oh-gyu have been increasingly difficult for opponents to break down, while Ahn Hyun-beom has provided some early scoring punch for the islanders.

Oh Seung-hoon was instrumental in Jeju being able to secure a point against Ulsan last time out.
Where the team really does need to improve is in attack, as the assets up top have yet to get firing, but that could change with this weekend's encounter with Gwangju.  Nam Ki-il will have to hope that his offensive pieces start contributing on a regular basis with the next five matches giving them opportunities to pick up points and put them in a stronger position in the table.  Following the Gwangju match, they are away to Suwon FC, then have back-to-back matches at home against Gangwon FC and Suwon Samsung Bluewings before they play their third round match in the FA Cup.  Their production up front in these matches will dictate their progress in the early stages of the campaign.

Four Losses in Five for the Yellows

Gwangju played last time out against FC Seoul in midweek, losing 2-1 for their fourth loss in five matches this season.  Kim Ju-gong gave them the lead on 36 minutes from the penalty spot, but it would not last long as Na Sang-ho would restore parity before the break.  The introduction of Felipe at the beginning of the second half was meant to turn Gwangju's fortunes in the right direction but Seoul kept pressing forward and were eventually awarded when Ki Seung-yueng netted the winner with under ten minutes to play.

Gwangju have been kept off the score sheet on three occasions this season, but have proven to be a stiff test for some of the best teams in the division thus far.  The highlight of course in their first five matches was their 4-1 triumph away to Daegu one week ago.  Despite an exodus of personnel over the winter, there are still some very good pieces with the club, and by no means should they be taken lightly.

The head to head between the two sides is very even, with Jeju edging it in the win column with six wins to Gwangju's five, while three matches have ended in draws.

Team News

Jeju United

Nam Ki-il has a wealth of options at his disposal, but it may take some time yet before they are to fully gel as a group.  Jeju are solid in the back between the sticks with Oh Seung-hoon as the number one, and even Yoo Yeon-su got his first K League 1 start in the 1-0 victory against Pohang.  

The defensive three of Jung Woon, Kwon Han-jin, and Kim Oh-gyu have been nothing short of exceptional, while the midfield has largely remained unchanged through the first five matches of the season.  Ahn Hyun-beom and Jung Woo-jae have been constant threats on the flanks, and Lee Chang-min has been a solid presence in the middle.  Kang Yoon-sung started in the previous match after Yeo Reum picked up an injury last weekend and was kept out of the starting eleven as a precaution, although he came on late as a substitute late in midweek.

Gerso Fernandes and Lee Kyu-hyuk came on as substitutes in the second half against Ulsan but were both substituted before the end of the match, signaling that there still needs to be some work done in terms of rotation from the bench.  It will be up to the manager to find the right combination in order to secure maximum points on Saturday afternoon.

Gwangju FC

With already four losses this season, things have not gotten off to the best start for Gwangju.  They could see the return of Yeo Bong-hun, who will be looking to start at right back over Lee Ji-hoon after missing the past two matches through injury.  Recently signed center back Aleksandar Andrejević will be available but has only just joined team training after self-isolating since his arrival from Serbian SuperLiga side FK Proleter Novi Sad.

There is a good chance Felipe will get his first start of the season this weekend after three consecutive matches coming from the bench after missing the first two contests of the year due to a hamstring injury.  In such a case, he would be likely flanked on the right by Eom Won-sang and on the left by either Kim Ju-gong or Song Seung-min.

What to Watch

Who is set to become Jeju United's main attacking threat?

 Jeju United have scored just three goals in their first five matches, with two coming from Ahn Hyun-beom and one from Jung Woon.  Joo Min-kyu, Oskar Zawada, and Jin Seong-wook have all had chances to start up top, but none of them have been able to make an impact in the goal scoring department as of yet.

Joo scored eight goals for the islanders last season, an admirable total considering he spent a portion of the season on the sidelines.  Jin finished the 2020 campaign with five goals in his last seven matches after returning from Sangju Sangmu and was one of the protagonists for Jeju's title push, while Zawada was brought in from Poland to give the island side extra force up top.

Joo Min-kyu is still searching for his first goal of the season.
After a pair of brief appearances in the first two matches of the season, the Pole looks to be the front-runner to lead the line this year.  He has had his chances to score but needs to apply that finishing touch.  A goal to open his account would do a world of good not only for his confidence but would greatly contribute to the team putting together a string of results should he finally be able to get off the mark.

Gwangju, however, have already proven to be tough opposition for some of the better sides in the division early in the season, so goals may once again be hard to come by if the execution isn't up to scratch.

Who to Watch

Yoon Bo-sang - Gwangju FC

Yoon Bo-sang returned to Gwangju FC in the winter transfer window after spending last season with Jeju United.
Despite their early season struggles, one player who has stood out for the Yellows is goalkeeper Yoon Bo-sang.  He conceded only three goals in the first three matches of the season, back-to-back 1-0 losses to Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Ulsan Hyundai, and a 4-1 win against Daegu FC.  His shot stopping ability was on full display against FC Seoul in midweek as well but he will need the men directly in front of him to do a better job of marking up opposing forwards as it only took five minutes for Gwangju to relinquish their lead in their previous match.

Yoon will also be going up against the club he spent last season with.  He didn't get much of a chance to play, appearing only twice across all competitions.  In fact, he was not in the squad for the majority of the season, so the motivation to play well on Saturday afternoon will certainly be there.  Always regarded as a professional of the game, he will be a key factor if Kim Ho-young's men are to get a result.

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