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Owls Face IPark Looking for First Win of the Season

Chungnam Asan came up on the short end of the result last time out against Bucheon FC 1995, conceding late in injury time despite carrying play most of the way in a tightly fought contest.  Busan IPark meanwhile, reversed their opening weekend misfortune in recording a 2-1 victory against Daejeon Hana Citizen.  Saturday afternoon's hosts have struggled at home each of the past two seasons, so getting a result will be important if they are to have a chance to move up the table early in the season.  KLU's Branko Belan looks ahead to the match.

Match: Chungnam Asan vs Busan IPark
Venue: Yi Sun Shin Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday, March 13th, 2021; 16:00 KST

Asan Firing Blanks, IPark Much Improved

Asan once again failed to score against Bucheon, making it seven matches in a row going back to last season where they have failed to find the back of the net.  A first look at the starting eleven last weekend suggests why this could have been the case, with Kim Chan starting up top, favored over new signing Matheus Alves, while fellow import Alex Sandro also was left on the bench, as was the team's new number ten Lee Jae-gun.

Asan should have gone in front midway through the first half when they were awarded a penalty, but Park Se-jik's effort from the spot was parried away by Jeon Jong-hyeok.  The Owls would come close just before the end of the half, but a free kick attempt would strike the frame of the goal and the teams went to the break on level terms.

Park Chang-jun would seal Asan's fate with a second half injury time winner.
The second half was mostly a tale of unrealized chances for both sides but just when it looked as though they would share the points, Kim Jong-kook went into the book for a rough tackle, and Park Chang-jun nodded home from close range following the ensuing free kick to give the visitors their first win of the season.

Busan IPark slumped to a heavy defeat against Seoul E-Land in their opening match but found enough in the tank to take all three points against Daejeon Hana Citizen last time out, thanks to first half goals from Park Jeong-in and Valentinos Sielis.

A switch in tactics secured Ricardo Peres his first win as IPark manager.
Ricardo Peres' men looked much more refined in comparison to their opening performance where they lacked intention in clinical areas against the Leopards.  Both teams had their chances in the early going before the visitors hit the front in the 18th minute after Park latched on to a touch pass just outside the area after the ball had been played in from the right by Choi Jun and struck a shot first time hard and low past Kim Dong-jun.  The lead would be doubled just past the half hour mark when Sielis rose well to power home a headed effort from Domagoj Drožđek's corner.  Daejeon would cut the deficit in half just before the interval when Lee Jin-hyun converted from the spot.

Team News

Chungnam Asan

Both Matheus Alves and Alex Sandro started the match against Bucheon FC 1995 on the bench but came on as substitutes in the second half.  Kim Chan was once again ineffective as the top striking option up front which may suggest a change in tactics considering the strength of the opponent on Saturday afternoon.  Park Dong-hyuk would be wise to shuffle the deck and give his key players more time on the pitch.  Lee Jae-gun, widely considered to be the team's best player last season, was left on the bench but should get the call this weekend.  

Kim In-kyun is another player who would benefit from more playing time as he could pose problems on the left.  Lee Seung-jae, on loan from FC Seoul had some impact making darting runs on the right, and his service into the area was decent, but the Owls simply need more quality up top.  Choi Kyu-baek was arguably the team's best player last time out and will continue to anchor the back line.

The manager admitted the team had improved from the first match, but they ultimately fell short again.

"From the first half until the goal was scored, we played the style of football we wanted to play.  The players played with confidence and the overall process was good, but the result leaves a lot of regret.  We have to keep track of the players' morale and prepare well for the next home game," he said following the match against Bucheon.

It seems the Brazilians also will need a bit more time to get back to full match fitness, so they may continue to come from the bench for the next few weeks before they become full members of the starting eleven.

Busan IPark

Ricardo Peres will likely not want to alter too much in terms of his starting eleven ahead of Saturday's match.  One potential change could see Lee Sang-heon take his place on the right side of midfield as a replacement for Jung Hoon-sung, who was largely ineffective against Daejeon.  

Park Jeong-in not only scored against Daejeon last weekend but also contributed quite a bit in a number ten role, playing a bit deeper than usual and it helped the team in terms of retaining possession and ball distribution.  Lee Tae-min, despite only being seventeen years old, was given his first chance with the senior team last weekend, coming on in the 82nd minute, and could be an option from the bench against Asan once again.

What to Watch

Who will score goals in the meantime for Chungnam Asan?

The Owls' two foreign signings are still finding their feet with their new club, which prompts the question as to where the goal production will come from for Asan while the two of them work their way back to match fitness.  Asan have failed to score in seven consecutive matches dating back to last season, and it is clear that Kim Chan is not the answer for them as a first-choice attacking option.  

There are plenty of options on the wing, and the side looks much better compared to last season - they carried the majority of the play in a losing effort last weekend, but they're up against much stiffer competition in round three and they are not the type of squad capable of playing from behind, especially considering the caliber of players they will be up against.  If they fall behind early, it could be a long day out.

Who to Watch

Domagoj Drožđek - Busan IPark

Drožđek battles for possession with Lee Jin-hyun.
The Croatian winger came on as a second half substitute in the opening loss against Seoul E-Land but earned his first start against Daejeon, picking up an assist.  The former U-19 Croatia international won the 2. HNL scoring title with NK Varaždin in the 2017/18 season with sixteen goals and added a league title and promotion to the first division a season later.  

He looked comfortable on the left and will definitely be an asset for Peres this season as IPark look to mount a challenge to get back to K League 1 next year.  He spent parts of his youth career with Dinamo Zagreb and Borussia Dortmund before being promoted to the German side's second team where he made twelve appearances during the 2015/16 season, so there is no question with regards to his pedigree.  While Asan looked organized defensively over their first two matches, he could be the one to break them down and create chances for attacking threats up top.


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