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Can Gangwon overcome a huge obstacle whilst Daejeon push for first division football?

After a 1-0 defeat saw Daejeon go into pole position for promotion, Gangwon will be looking to make amends in front of their home supporters on Sunday. There’ll have to be huge improvements though, and even still they could come too late for survival to be attained.

Last Time Out

It was a deserved victory for Daejeon in the first leg, with the K League 2 side moving the ball quicker, looking like they had more drive, and generally playing with more confidence than their adversaries. It was, perhaps aptly, two players with Gangwon links who played key roles in the winning goal, something which will become a sinister summation of the Bears’ season of poor decisions should it prove vital at the end of the tie.

There is some hope for the home side though. Overturning a one goal deficit is hardly the heftiest mountain to climb on the surface, and although the squad seem unwaveringly inconsistent, they could just muster up one last quality performance to prevent dark prospects becoming bleak reality.


Team News

Gangwon go into proceedings with few issues. Long-term absentee Ko Moo-yeol continues to miss out, whilst Kim Dong-hyun may still remain sidelined. After a relatively blunt performance last time out though, a slight reshuffle elsewhere may be on the cards. Who misses out though, given the lack of quality depth, is another question.

Daejeon, on the other hand, have a clean bill of health. Masatoshi Ishida’s second-half substitution is unlikely to result in an absence, while everyone else remains available for Sunday’s potential promotion clincher.

Head-to-Head

There have been 25 meetings in this fixture, with Daejeon winning 13, Gangwon eight, and four draws. Wednesday’s 1-0 was the first contest since October 2016, however, so it’s hard to truly gauge who has the upper hand, even if the away side now have three consecutive victories over the Bears.

What to Watch

Can Gangwon do the improbable?

No K League 1 side has secured safety after a loss in the Promotion/Relegation playoff first leg. It’s a deflating statistic for Gangwon, especially given their vulnerable showing just a few days ago, but it’s something that could just as easily be used as motivation; who wouldn’t want to be the first team to buck the trend? Additionally, Choi Yong-soo is a manager not unfamiliar to Promotion/Relegation playoffs, and is someone who can surely get something out of a side who, at times, have looked down and out. It may mean relying on star player Kim Dae-won to pull the clichéd something out of nothing, or even looking towards the heavens for a miracle, but there’s potential amongst the pessimism. Just two goals without reply is all it’ll take, but then again, the Bears have only done that six times this campaign (two of those occasions were 3-0 victories, on the positive side).

Will Daejeon get their wish?

Plying their trade in the second division since 2016, Daejeon Hana Citizen will feel like it’s been too long without a stint in K League 1. Manager Lee Min-sung says he will refuse to set his side up to play passively in this leg, and that Daejeon will not hold themselves back. If they can repeat a performance with a similar amount of efficiency and quality as Wednesday, and top it off with a crucial away goal, it’s probable that Lee’s side will be playing top flight football next year.

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