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Preview: It's "derby day" as Gyeongnam face arch-rivals Busan IPark

With only two points separating rivals Gyeongnam and Busan IPark, Monday night's clash will be its usual tight tussle.  The hosts have been buoyed of late picking up four points from promotion-chasing FC Anyang and Gimcheon Sangmu in their last two games.  Ricardo Peres IPark are in indifferent form only picking up one win in their last six matches.  The Portuguese man at the helm will want to see an uptick in performances and results if the Royals are to make a late push for promotion.  The Reds have aspirations of their own and are vying for a late charge up the table themselves.  A recent tweak of Seol Ki Hyeon's system has worked wonders for Gyeongnam of late.  K League United's Gyeongnam FC columnist James Edrupt previews this one.

Match Overview

Gyeongnam FC (6th) vs Busan IPark (5th)
Venue: Changwon Football Center.  Changwon.
Time and Date: Monday 16th August, 19:30 (KST)

Recent Form

Seol Ki-hyeon will be proud of his team of late

Gyeongnam picked up a more than credible point on the road against current league leaders Gimcheon Sangmu.  Hero for the visitors was goalkeeper Son Jung-hyun whose saved a spot-kick with just eight minutes remaining.

It was a relatively scrappy game overall with neither side grabbing hold of the contest.  Gyeongam did pose a threat on the break with Willyan in fine form making the hosts goalkeeper Gu Sung-yun into a finger-tipped save just before the twenty-minute mark.  The Brazilian winger then struck the base of the post right on the stroke of half-time.  The real action came after the interval with Gimcheon on the front foot on the whole.  Gimcheon threw men forward to gain an advantage.  But it was Gyeongnam who thought they had opened the scoring after sixty minutes through Willyan tapping in at the back post.  VAR intervened and saw a handball in the build-up that led to the goal.  Then as the visitors looked like they had weathered the storm, pacey forward Park Dong-jin was brought down in the box and a spot-kick was awarded.   Midfielder Heo Yong-jun stepped up but saw his tame penalty saved down to his left by Son Jung-hyun.  

Busan still searching for consistency

Busan IPark played out an entertaining clash with fellow playoff hopefuls FC Anyang last weekend.  The match ended one apiece but that doesn't tell the story of the whole game.

In an end-to-end first half, Busan took the lead just four minutes before the interval through K League 2's leading marksman An Byong-jun.  The North Korean latched onto a through-ball from strike partner Park Jeong-in and made no mistake calmly finishing into the corner for his 15th goal of the campaign.  The second half was no different with both sides having numerous attempts on goal.  Busan were reduced to ten men just after the hour mark when English midfielder Ryan Edwards picked up two bookings in very quick succession.  

Despite being down to ten men, Busan were causing Anyang problems and they were awarded a spot-kick when An Byong-jun was bundled over when a cross came into the box.  The aforementioned An stepped up and uncharacteristically for him blasted his spot-kick wide.  The impetus then swung in the hosts' favor and they were to get the leveler when Costan Rican center forward Johnathan Moya planted a firm header into the top corner past the hapless Choe Pil-soo with just eight minutes remaining.  The drama was not done quite yet when the visitors thought they have scored an unlikely winner deep into stoppage time through substitute Drozdek who toe-poked the ball home following a melee in the box.  VAR intervened and An Byong-jun was adjudged to have impeded an Anyang defender as the ball bounced around the six-yard box.  A quite dramatic ending to a pulsating encounter.  

Team News

Manager Seol Ki-hyeon will be satisfied with how his new-look team have been playing of late.  They have looked very dynamic all over the pitch compared to early in the season.  Seol will want to select the same eleven that performed so admirably against Gimcheon last Sunday.  Brazilian winger Willyan has been in blistereing form of late and is looking sharp in possession and there is real excitement when he is on the ball.  Experienced campaigner Baek Sung-dong will have to pick up the mantle as captain as Hwang Il-soo's season has been cut short due to a knee injury.  The center-back pairing of Kim Young-chan and Bae Seung-jin have looked calm and composed and with number 1 goalkeeper Son Jung-hyun putting in a man of the match performance last time out the Gyeongnam faithful are feeling somewhat positive coming into the clash.  

A win on Monday will go a long way for Seol Ki-hyeon to prove the doubters wrong

The Royals will have to do with manager Ricardo Peres in the dugout for the clash.  The Busan manager reacted furiously after the last minute against FC Anyang was chalked off late into added-on time.  He was shown a red card and will now have to watch the game from the stands.  Busan will also be without former Burton Albion midfielder Ryan Edwards who will serve a one-match suspension following his two bookable offenses in the same game.  Peres will be sweating on the fitness of key players, right-wing back Choi Jun and towering center back Valentinos Sielis.  Both missed the Anyang game and are touch and go in regards to them making this one.  Busan IPark’s Olympic duo Kim Jin-kyu and Ahn Joon-soo are back with the team and in contention for Monday's game.  Summer signing Renato Santos made his first start for the team last weekend so he'll be hoping he did enough to regain his spot in the starting eleven against Gyeongnam.  

Busan IPark's manager Ricardo Peres will not be present on Monday evening

What to Watch

How can Gyeongnam stop An Byong-jun from scoring against them?

An Byong-jun will be looking to keep up his impressive goal record against Gyeongnam this Monday evening in Changwon

Simply put., An Byong-jun scores when facing Gyeongnam FC.  An was the player who with the last kick of the game sent Suwon FC into K League 1 from the penalty spot.  In the two games they have faced each other this campaign, he has found the net on both occasions.  When plying his trade for Suwon FC he bagged five goals in four games against the Reds' in the 2020 season.  Scoring two last-minute winners in those contests.  

He really loves playing against Gyeongnam and has a knack for being in the right place at the right time when it matters.  The prolific forward comes alive in and around the sixteen-yard box and if you are not switched on as a defender he will punish you.  He will be eager to add to his 15 goals so far this campaign on Monday night.  The Gyeopngnam rearguard will have to be switched on for ninety minutes if they are to stop the North Korean in-form striker from adding to his already impressive tally. 


Who to Watch

Gyeongnam FC - Willyan

Despite struggling at first when signing for Gyeongnam the Brazilian knuckled down and he is now reaping the rewards.  The Reds' have been very inconsistent this campaign but one player that hasn't been is the pacey winger.  The flamboyant player is very direct when having the ball at his feet and he is always demanding the ball from his teammates.  Look for Willyan in the latter stages of the game to be running at the Busan defense.  His intelligence with or without the ball causes teams in this division problems.  If Gyeongnam have aspirations of making it out of this league then Willyan and the players around him have got to start putting together a run of victories sooner rather than later.  But if there is one player that can win a game for you on his own it's the former Gwangju man Willyan.    


This has all the hallmarks of being a classic.  Both teams have goals in them and I see this contest being no different but one the hosts might just edge over the ninety minutes.

Gyeongnam FC 3-2 Busan IPark 


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