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5 Korean Cup games to look out for this Wednesday

The headline fixture in round 3 of the Korean Cup is undoubtedly the capital derby. Seoul E-Land welcome FC Seoul to Mokdong for the very first time with a place in the last 16 and major bragging rights up for grabs. Eight K League 1 clubs enter at this stage, and they'll be joined by four sides in K3 and 4, respectively. Every game is on Wednesday, with all but two starting at 19:00.

Seoul E-Land vs FC Seoul

Mokdong Stadium. 19:30

The obvious choice, for several reasons. City derbies are uncommon in Korean football and they're even rarer in Seoul, despite the city's enormous population. This is just the second-ever meeting between two clubs temporally separated by 7 km and the Han River. FC Seoul legend Osmar will face his former side, only five months after leaving Sangam, where he is still adored. Behind the scenes, E-Land have been preparing for this game for weeks, after the draw was initially made. 

FC Seoul enter at this stage under the guidance of Kim Gi-dong, who led Pohang Steelers to victory last year. Jesse Lingard features heavily in the promotional pictures, but the former England international will be absent. Seoul warmed up for this derby in the worst possible fashion; they led Pohang twice at the weekend before losing 4-2. Seoul E-Land, meanwhile, needed penalties to eliminate K3's Daejeon Korail in the last round but come into this game having had the weekend off.

The winners will host Gangwon FC or Hwaseong FC in June.

FC Anyang VS. Gimpo FC

Anyang Stadium. 19:00

Anyang have hit top form early.
Two sides at complete opposite ends of K League 2 meet at Anyang Stadium on Wednesday night. FC Anyang have enjoyed a dream start to the season, dropping just two points from their first six games. Anyang were considered by many to be outside play-off contenders after slipping away badly last term, but three excellent foreign recruits have added goals up top and stability in midfield. Anyang fell at the first hurdle last year, losing heavily at home to Busan IPark.

Gimpo, meanwhile, have endured a difficult start to their campaign. Because of redevelopments at their ground, last season's beaten play-off finalists won't return home until May. Gimpo were originally awarded home advantage in this tie, but the game was moved to Anyang. Ko Jeong-woon's side have won just once all season, and sit bottom of K League 2. Last season, Gimpo recorded a famous penalty shootout win over FC Seoul in the 3rd round, before losing to their nemesis Gangwon FC.

The reward for progressing past this round is significant; Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors will visit in June.

                [READ: Ulsan Hyundai vs. Yokohama F. Marinos preview]

Jinju Citizen vs. Daejeon Hana Citizen

Jinju Stadium. 19:00

A man under pressure?
The fairytale fixture of the third round sees the last remaining fourth tier side, Jinju Citizen, welcome Daejeon Hana Citizen to their impressive - but oversized - stadium. Jinju dumped out K League 2's Chungnam Asan in the previous round, and their reward is a tie with struggling top-flight club. Jinju are currently midtable in K4, having played just three matches, recording their first win on Sunday in Chungju. Interestingly, Jinju will play a league fixture away to Daejeon Hana's second team in late April.

Daejeon's first team have started poorly in K League 1 and pressure is beginning to build on manager Lee Min-sung. They looked to have turned a corner when defending champions, Ulsan HD, were beaten 2-0 in round 5, but back-to-back losses against Pohang Steelers and Suwon FC sees Daejeon bottom of the table with one win from seven. With a trip to fellow strugglers Daegu FC on Sunday, this Korean Cup game is one they'd probably not play.

The winners will host either Jeju United or Cheonan City in the next round.

FC Mokpo vs. Bucheon FC 1995

Mokpo International Football Centre. 19:00

Bucheon will be hoping to avoid a shock in Mokpo.
This is a tasty Cup game for K3 side FC Mokpo; not only do they have a realistic chance of causing an upset against Bucheon FC, but the reward for doing so will be hosting provincial neighbors Gwangju FC in the next round. Mokpo's form has been mixed in K3; on Saturday they broke a win-loss-win-loss streak in their 2-2 draw with Chuncheon. They have seven points from five games, but a terrible goal difference after the hiding they took in Siheung recently. Last season, they were eliminated by their other provincial neighbors, Jeonnam Dragons, by the slenderest of margins.

Bucheon, meanwhile, also arrive on the back of mixed league form. After a poor start to the season, they went unbeaten in three before a big loss at league leaders Anyang. Last Sunday, they conceded late to Seongnam denying them a much needed three points. Bucheon are currently 8th in the second division, with 2 wins, 2 draws, and 2 defeats to show for their start. In 2023, Bucheon's Cup run ended at the first hurdle, when they were hammered 6-0 in Mokdong.

Gimcheon Sangmu vs. Busan IPark

Gimcheon Stadium. 19:00

Can Busan exercise those demons?

Is this the worst possible draw for Park Jin-sub's Busan IPark? Having led Gimcheon down the home straight in last year's epic K League 2 title race, Busan gifted Gimcheon the championship on the final day, dropping five points from their final two games. And it appears the scars of that collapse haven't fully healed; Busan are fourth with 3 wins and 4 losses, but already seven points adrift. Their games are entertaining; last Sunday, they recovered from 3 goals down to tie with Anyang, somehow gave away a fourth, and then had a penalty saved deep into injury time. 

Gimcheon Sangmu, on the other hand, have taken that momentum and carried it into K League 1. Chung Jung-yong's army recruits are second, with five wins from seven games. They could be excused it they had an eye on the weekend's game; a trip to league leaders Pohang Steelers. Since relocating to Gimcheon, Sangmu have yet to advance beyond the quarter finals, but they did manage a couple of semi-final appearances in Sangju.

The winner will be on the road in the next round, visiting Incheon or Gimhae.

The draw in full:

Wednesday, April 17th

Ansan Greeners (2) vs. (2) Suwon Samsung, 19:30.
Seoul E-Land (2) vs. (1) FC Seoul, 19:30.
Gangwon FC (1) vs. (3) Hwaseong FC, 19:00.
FC Anyang (2) vs. (2) Gimpo FC, 19:00.
Jinju Citizen (4) vs. (1) Daejeon Hana Citizen, 19:00.
Jeju United (1) vs. (2) Cheonan City FC, 19:00.
FC Mokpo (3) vs. (2) Bucheon FC 1995, 19:00.
Seongnam FC (2) vs. (1) Suwon FC, 19:00.
Daegu FC (1) vs. (2) Chungbuk Cheongju FC, 19:00.
Gyeongnam FC (2) vs. (2) Jeonnam Dragons, 19:00.
Incheon United (1) vs. (3) Gimhae, 19:00.
Gimheon Sangmu (1) vs. (2) Busan IPark, 19:00.

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