K-League 2012 Round 26 – Midweek Edition

Denis Laktionov made a surprising return to the K-League after being out for 5 years for Gangwon against Seoul. Will his return be the difference in getting Gangwon the win over Jeju and getting themselves away from the battle at the bottom?

The action in the K-League keeps coming at a fast pace and is as hot as the weather has been in Korea the last fortnight. Last round showed nobody is safe with Daejeon going to league leaders Jeonbuk and beating them and with onlt five rounds to go now until the split, all teams are playing their hardest. Some very closely matched games this round which will be very important come the end of the season. Time to have a look at what is in store as the K-League has a midweek edition.

Wednesday Evening
*Jeonbuk vs. Pohang (7pm) – arguably the game of the round as Jeonbuk were stung at home by last place Daejeon on Sunday snapping a 14 game unbeaten run and while they are still leading at the top of the table, will be looking to ensure they don’t lose two home games in the space of four days. They will be playing their achilles heel of a team, Pohang who have defeated Jeonbuk both times these teams have faced up this season, the last time was as recently as last Wednesday. Jeonbuk were due a bad performance after such a stunning run of league matches but it was a big surprise to all people that it was Daejeon that defeated them. Surely that should be enough of as wake-up to get their season back on track after losing two in a row including their FA Cup game last week (against Pohang) as Seoul are hot on their tails now, only one point off the pace. Pohang had a brilliant second half against Seongnam, scoring 3 goals in the last 25 minutes after the substituting off Asamoah, who had been complaining of a lack of game time. Perhaps he will find himself back on the bench again as the team played much better when he was removed with the substitute Park Sung-Ho getting 2 goals and an assist for his efforts. This win should be enough to give them a spot in the final eight come the split and with an easy finish after this, you could be forgiven for thinking they might take this one a little easier. Jeonbuk always play well against the big boys at home, and have only lost once (against Ulsan) in the past three years to teams that are currently inside the top eight. Both teams will be a bit fatigued playing this game but Jeonbuk should be able to dust themselves up off the floor and get the victory here to give them their first win over Pohang in 2012. Pred: 2-1.
FUN FACT: Jeonbuk haven’t lost two in a row at home since April 2008.

*Seongnam vs. Ulsan (7:30pm) – Seongnam hit a bit of speed bump last round when Pohang ran over the top of them in the second half but they have been playing much better recently and need to ensure they keep the good form going as they are only 3 points off 8th place Gyeongnam and with a hard stretch of games to come, have to get as many points as they can. Their opponents will be Ulsan who have been Seongnam’s nemesis this season beating them both times they have played, the last time in an FA Cup round where Ulsan got 2 very late goals to sink last seasons FA Cup champions Seongnam 2-1. So perhaps revenge will be on the mind of the Seongnam crew. Ulsan played in a thrilling contest defeating Suwon 3-2, with big man Kim Shin-Wook grabbing 2 goals to continue his nice recent play, scoring five goals in the last month. This victory leapfrogged them over Suwon into third spot and only eight points off Jeonbuk. So an important game for both sides as they try to catch the teams in front of them. Seongnam have been very poor at home in the last couple of months failing to win a game at Tancheon in over 2 months, and haven’t defeated any team at home that is currently sitting in the top eight. Ulsan as well, have not been travelling well so this game is a bit of a toss-up. I am sure both sides will be going for it but there isn’t too much to recommend either team. Perhaps with Ulsan playing as well as they did last round, if they continue with the same form they could snatch this one. I think a draw could be the fair result though. Pred: 1-1.
FUN FACT: If Seongnam fail to win this one at home, it would be their longest winless home run (6 games) in all competitions for over 10 years.

*Gangwon vs. Jeju (7:30pm) – the longest trip in the K-League with the team from the far north-east playing the teams from the far south-west island. What is dragging Gangwon towards the bottom this season is their home form which is the worst in the league (away they are 6th best) and they are now winless at home since early April. If this doesn’t change then they will be continually battling to stay off the bottom. They have shown some very good spirit away in recent times though and seem to be a completely different team on the road, as was seen against Seoul last round, where they really took it to the league challengers. Perhaps the biggest surprise for Gangwon in that Seoul game however was the return to Korea of K-League legend Denis Laktionov who played in Korea from 1996 – 2007 but has been in semi-retirement since then. It seemed a big risk for Gangwon to bring him back under his old coach Kim Hak-Bum but he was arguably the best player on the pitch when he came on in the second half and it could be one of the coups of the season and the edge Gangwon needs to get themselves away from the bottom. At Jeju meanwhile, after serving out a few thrashings a couple of weeks ago have hit the brick wall, losing at Gyeongnam and surprisingly Sangju and it is that bad away form that has been their undoing. They still have a chance of silverware in the FA Cup but the league seems beyond them now. On paper, Jeju should walk this and Gangwon are miserable at home but I have a sneaky feeling this could be the game where Gangwon wins for the first time in a long time and gives to Kim Hak-Bum his first home win. The bookies don’t agree with me but Gangwon have been playing too well recently to not snatch a home win as well. Pred: 2-1.
FUN FACT: Jeju have won the last 5 games in a row against Gangwon.

*Seoul vs. Gyeongnam (8pm) – Seoul play their second home game in four days after seeing off a strong challenge from Gangwon. They can’t rest as a resurgent Gyeongnam come to town on the back of a very good win over Daegu on Saturday evening that vaulted them over Daegu and into the top eight for the first time since Round 2. It wasn’t easy for Seoul as they had to rely on their “Demolition Duo” of Molina(2) and Dejan(1) to get all three goals in their 3-2 victory over Gangwon. Their reliance on these two is a little worrying for the Seoul FC fans, but as long as they stay injury-free, there is no reason why Seoul won’t see themselves up near the pointy end at the end of the season with these two quality players in their side. They have the best home form in the league and are yet to lose so far in 2012 in Seoul so they will be very confident that they can take a confident Gyeongnam down and get their second home win within the space of four days. Gyeongnam were brilliant on Sunday with Caique being the standout getting a hattrick at the perfect time as Gyeongnam keep their good form going as they entered the top eight. They must be feeling reasonably confident they can keep that spot now, as after this tough match, they play three out of the last four at home, and all of these will be seen as winnable. Gyeongnam have looked good but this could be a little bit too tough and it is hard to see a team who lost in their last away game at Sangju come to seoul and win. It is possible but the edge in this contest must go to Seoul who have been scoring goals at will at home in the last month or so. Pred: 3-1.
FUN FACT: Seoul have won the last four home games in a row against Gyeongnam.

*Busan vs. Suwon (8pm) – a team that is somewhat on the rise versus a team who seemingly are slowly tumbling down the table. After having a rather bad blip a couple of rounds ago getting thrashed 6-0 in Seoul, they have turned things around 180 degrees and in their last three games haven’t conceded a goal to keep that momentum going that is dragging them up the table and away from any trouble with the bottom half. They have been so good in recent times that they only find themselves four points behind Suwon and a win here would have them right on Suwon’s heels and putting the away team under a lot of pressure. Even better news is that midfielder McKay has returned for them and gave a beautiful pass for Busan’s final goal in their 2-0 victory over last placed Gwangju on Saturday evening. This could be the game where he starts as after two games back after hamstring problems he should be match-fit. It is the opposite case for Suwon as they fall further and further from any chance of impacting at the top and will be missing two key players for this one. Radoncic will be out suspended, his impact was obvious as during his absence, Suwon were not the same team and have only started to play a little better since he returned from injury. Bigger news though is that influential fringe Korean team midfielder Lee Young-Rae has been sold to the Middle East (for a rumoured 3 million dollars) and he will not be in the lineup for this game. Suwon fans didn’t need to hear more bad news as now the transfer window has closed and they cannot replace him and will have to make-do with somebody already in the squad to cover that hole for the rest of the season. Busan have been like a brick wall at home, giving up ONLY three goals since March and now they have their defensive wits about the again, expect Busan to shut out Suwon in a low-scoring game to narrow the gap to a top 4 position. Pred: 1-0.
FUN FACT: If Suwon don’t win this one, it will be their longest winless streak (6 games) away in over three years.

*Gwangju vs. Sangju (8pm) – the final Wednesday game sees a clash of two teams that could possibly be relegated at the end of the season (considering Sangju will be relegated no matter what their position). It is the return of former Gwangju (2003-2010) team Sangju to their old playing ground as they take on the new citizen Gwangju (2011- ) team. Gwangju are starting to enter desperate times as their form has been dreadful since early April and now are paying for that as for the first time this season they find themselves on the bottom with everyone above them. The basic problem for Gwangju seem to stem at their defence as they are the leagues worst and concede 2 or more goals in the majority of their games. Up front they have a lot of good talent but if they don’t have a consistent run of games where they can shut out the opposition, they will really struggle to lift themselves off the bottom. Their home miseries continued as Busan beat them 2-0 last round and they will be desperate not to make it two home losses in a row. With only two home wins in the last 12 months, no matter who the opposition is, there are no easy home games for Gwangju. Their opponents Sangju on the other hand are now unbeaten in six games and improbably, one of the form teams in the league, managing to win their second home game in a row against Jeju last round (for the first time since 2009) and must be feeling good that they can make it three wins in a row here. With Sangju playing suddenly like a team that can beat anyone, it is really hard to see Gwangju getting anything out of this game. They really need to win here though and I am sure they will putting everything into it but Sangju to just shade this one and make life at Gwangju even tougher. Pred: 1-2.
FUN FACT: If Sangju draw this, then that would be three drawn away in a row, something that hasn’t happened in over 6 years.

Thursday Evening – 7pm
*Daejeon vs. Incheon – a bit of spice with this encounter as earlier this season these two sets of fans had a bit of a brawl and there is no love lost between the two sides. Both of these teams have been propping up the table for a lot of the season but both have managed to pick themselves up and give Gwangju a go at holding up the league. Daejeon probably pulled off the shock of the season so far, going to league leaders Jeonbuk last weekend and pulling off a 1-0 win with Kevin Oris the hero. Daejeon have never lost in the seven games he has scored so they will be hoping he can pull another one out of the big for this important clash. They had struggled to win in recent games so it was a vital win and they will be hoping to make it two in a row and relieve some of the relegation pressure. Incheon had their time at the bottom but under new coach Kim Bong-Gil have come alive and now have a 6-point gap from the bottom. Their form on the road is still somewhat poor though and they can’t seem to play the same way on the road as they do at home. Daejeon really have had their troubles at home as well with only 2 wins in Daejeon but have signed some good players during the summer transfer period and with their confidence on a high they will be looking to avenge that nasty loss in Incheon. Should be a fun encounter. Pred: 2-1.
FUN FACT: Incheon have failed to win two games in a row in 15 months.

*Daegu vs. Chunnam – the last game of the round takes us to Daegu and a match where both teams are in the midst of a poor run of form. Daegu haven’t won in six games and Chunnam in nine games and both teams are desperate for a win for differing reasons. Daegu were outplayed in Changwon last Saturday night and after going along inside the top eight for most of the season have faltered at the wrong time and are now sitting in 9th and must win this game if they are to be in the mix come the end of Round 30. In June, Daegu rolled Chunnam 3-0 and will be hoping they can have the same kind of performance again. They will be missing some key players for this game so that will make it all that much harder. As for Chunnam, it is very tough down on the south coast as their poor run of results has sent them all the way down to 15th place. After looking very decent earlier in the season it has all completely fallen apart but Chunnam have made a couple of good signings and they should all be available for this game so they could have the edge here. However, they are terrible on the road winning only 3 times (twice in Sangju) in 15 months and will need to improve on this if they are to take the three points here and crawl away from trouble at the bottom. Both teams will be playing hard to get the victory but there is nothing that stands out as a big advantage for either one, but tradition says there will be a winner here. With Daegu carrying so many injuries and suspensions, perhaps Chunnam can shade this one and help their cause. Pred: 1-2
FUN FACT: There has been NO DRAW between these two teams in their last 10 games since 2007.

4 Responses to “K-League 2012 Round 26 – Midweek Edition”
  1. dajkula says:

    tricky round,I am thinking seoul – gyeongnam over 3 and busan dnb

  2. Jether says:

    Where can i get the injury list like you? I know kleague.com and soccerway (through inspection) provide suspended list .

    • mattyhannah says:

      There isnt one that I know of…I just read some articles (all Korean though) and they will usually say who is injured and who is returning. Some do get through me though. One article said all daegu’s foreigners were out for the Chunnam game when all three actually played so it isn’t always accurate. NO official list though

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