K-League 2012 – Round 29 Midweek Preview

Old Korean favorite Seol Ki Hyun popped up with goal in their vital win in Ulsan last weekend that rocketed Incheon into the final eight with only two rounds left until the split. Can he manage to get another goal and help the team with another unlikely victory against Jeonbuk on Thursday and complete the amazing turnaround that Incheon have had this season?

The last weekend round turned out to be a very topsy-turvy one with both teams at the top failing to score a win at home while both teams at the bottom did manage to get the win. Only one home team managed to win from all eight games proving how unpredictable the K-League is this season. It seems for this round most of the league fixtures have one team from the top playing one team at the bottom and there are no major clashes for the last midweek round before the split. With four teams still chasing that valuable 8th spot there should still be plenty of action in Round 29. Time to go and have a look…………

Wednesday – 7:30pm

*Daegu vs. Gangwon (7pm) – the first game of the round is in Daegu who are sitting in equal 8th with Incheon but are below them on goal difference. They had a poor performance on Sunday with Pohang showing their destructive side getting steamrolled 4-2. This did not help them in their bid for that top eight spot and with their final game being Seoul away on Sunday, they must win this one if they are to have any chance of being in the top 8 after Round 30. They have been in some rather poor form of late with only one win since June, and that one was rather lucky and they really need to make the home advantage count here. Gangwon have a weakish defence so with the talent Daegu have in attack, there is a good opportunity that it will click for them and they can give themselves a fighting chance of being in the top half. Gangwon meanwhile are fighting a different battle as they find themselves on the bottom of the table, the fourth different club to be in 16th place in two weeks. It really is a hot potato down there as all clubs are trying hard to make sure they don’t end up getting caught with the last place potato. They once again choked at home going down to an injury time goal against Busan but Gangwon’s strength this season has been on the road and along with Daegu have a lot of attacking strength as well. Kim Eun-Jung scored twice in a rare Gangwon home win over Daegu earlier this season and I am sure he will be hoping he can add to his tally. Gangwon are also on a bad run as well having only one once in eight games so with lots to play for here and both teams trying to snap losing streaks this could be a cracking game. Daegu have so much to play for in this contest so as they know this is a must win, they should just shade Gangwon here. Pred: 2-1.
FUN FACT: In nine contests between these two sides the HOME team has NEVER LOST. Seven home wins and two draws.

*Gyeongnam vs. Busan – the “Gyeongnam derby” and this game is usually well fought, both clubs being only 30 kilometres from each other as they try to be the pride of the province. Gyeongnam looked to be in the box seat for that eight place with a three game home stretch to see out the final week but then last-placed Chunnam came to town on Sunday and a poor 1-0 loss really has put the pressure on them as they now need to win the last two remaining home fixtures to assure themselves a place in the top half. With Incheon continually winning as well they need other fixtures to go their way and a loss here could end any chance of their top eight dream. Their opponent will be a tough one with Busan really fighting back after being thrashed by Seoul a few weeks ago and after looking like they could be in danger of slipping from the eight are now undefeated in six. The team is almost full-strength as well after losing players through injury and Olympic representation and with the exception of Kim Chang-Su should be at full strength. Gyeongnam have hit the form wall at the worst possible time and Busan will be one of the toughest defences they will have faced all season. With Gyeongnam struggling to break down a rejuvenated Chunnam team it is hard to see how they can have any hope of getting any goals against Busan. This is the “Gyeongnam derby” though and Gyeongnam often play their best in this fixture so this would be the perfect time for them to play their best football. Busan are great on the road but this is a different kind of game and I think Gyeongnam will be well up for it. Very very tight but Gyeongnam to just get up. Pred: 1-0.
FUN FACT: Busan haven’t won three away games in a row in over seven year (June 2005).

*Sangju vs. Ulsan – Both of these teams are in the midst of a form slump after having a nice little run of results and will be hoping to turn it around. Sangju had looked so good at times in July, undefeated for the whole month but since the calendar has changed, August has been very ordinary losing three on the trot as they get sucked towards the bottom again. They had one of the worst results of the season in front of the home fans last weekend getting done 3-0 by Seongnam and have reverted back to their early season home form. It is very possible that this could be the last home game for Sangju favorites Kim Chi-Gon (Ulsan), Choi Hyo-Jin and Kim Chi-Woo (both Seoul) as they would have finished their service soon and hopefully they should be playing very hard in their last Sangju home game before they return to their home teams. They are very good players and their departures will leave a big hole in the team that will not be replaced and Sangju will be a lot weaker in the last part of the season. As for Ulsan, they just lost two games in a row at home, both games which they would have been expected to win. This has seen them drop out of the top three in their battle for third against Suwon, and with their rivals having a relatively easy game this weekend they will need to get something from this if they are to stay in touch. Kim Shin-Wook and Lee Geun-Ho should be starting together for this one after Kim got some rest on the bench after all the exertions of the previous weeks. Impact forward Maranhao is suspended for this one so both will need to be at their best as they could be playing some long minutes. Not sure which Sangju will show up and perhaps with so many players about to depart Sangju’s team next month(about 16-20) they might have taken their eye off the games in front of them as they wait to be transferred back to their parent clubs. If that is the case, Ulsan should cruise this one and get their team back in the win column. Pred: 0-2.
FUN FACT: Ulsan haven’t lost to Sangju in nine matches.

*Chunnam vs. Seoul – Both teams are at opposite ends of the table but results are reversed last weekend with Seoul losing (even though they were first) and Chunnam winning (even though they were last) and Chunnam will be hoping they can make it two in a row. New coach Ha Seok-Ju had an immediate impact on Chunnam as they traveled to Gyeongnam and upset the home side 1-0 for their first win since mid-June to lift the team off the bottom. The Posco boys are not out of danger though as they sit in 15th place, only one point above Gangwon and coach Ha will be hoping his home debut is as good as his away one. He had all his players on the park pressing very hard and while it worked last Sunday, it may not work against a team with players as skillful as Seoul. The team from the capital couldn’t break their “Supermatch” jinx as they once again lost to Suwon to make it six games in a row without beating them. This knocked them off the top spot and are now level on points with major rivals Jeonbuk. This is a tricky fixture for Seoul as Chunnam should be well up for it and they seemed to have changed their game strategy and have tightened up at the back. If anyone can unlock a tight defence however it is the “Demolition Duo” of Dejan and Molina and Seoul will be very frustrated with what happened on Saturday and Chunnam could be the victims of their wrath. Chunnam don’t have a good record against the big boys and while this could be Chunnam at their best under their new coach, perhaps their best won’t be good enough to see off a very strong Seoul side who should be able to make sure they don’t lose two games in a row. Should be a very fascinating game for the crowd. Pred: 1-2.
FUN FACT: Seoul haven’t lost 2 games in a row in almost 2.5 years (April 2010).

*Pohang vs. Gwangju – Pohang have found their goal scoring boots in the last two rounds knocking in four goals in each game and grabbing the win in both of them. They have been conceding at the back but the attack has more than compensated. There could be more goals on offer this Wednesday night at the Steelyard as Gwangju pay a visit. It has been strange times at Pohang as while they have been losing forwards to injury, they have been scoring more goals. Current leading scorer No Byung-Jun returned and was immediately on the scoresheet and Park Sung-Ho is in some good form as well getting four goals in the last four games. Pohang has had the potential to fire up front all year and after some brief flashes it might be starting to come together. A win here could put them up into 5th spot, the highest they would have been all season long. They have a great opportunity to do this as Gwangju stutter into town on the back of a home loss to Daejeon. After a very tough run, Gwangju looked to have turned the corner with two wins in a row but were beaten in what was a close game. Gwangju need to make sure they don’t return back to the days of losing as the bottom of the table is so compact, only two points are separating the bottom five teams and a couple of losses in this final week could spit them back out the bottom. They do have a lot of attacking talent in their ranks so as long as they stay tight at the back then it should be enough. However, this game could be beyond them, but with Pohang struggling to put some consistent wins together this season, who knows if the old home demons of this season will pop up again for the Steelers. I am willing to bet that Pohang seem to have their problems sorted and with the attackers scorching hot at the moment, it is hard to back against Pohang. Could be a lot of goals in this one though. Pred: 3-1.
FUN FACT: Gwangju have NEVER beaten Pohang.

Thursday – 7pm
*Jeonbuk vs. Incheon – the match of the round with this being the only game this round where both teams are currently in the top half of the table. This game is of great importance to both teams but for differing reasons. Jeonbuk have started look rather wobbly in the last couple of weeks and while they did find their way to the goal as was predicted, the defense had one of their worst this season letting in three and it took a very late injury time goal by Leonardo (the first for Jeonbuk) to get the draw. That is two draws on the bounce now for the Green Machine and it is only due to Seoul losing last weekend that they now find themselves once again back in first place. They really need to win to hold off Seoul in their race for the title and if they can’t get the result against Incheon it would be the third time in four home games that they haven’t come away with the three points. As for Incheon, they continue their great middle third of the season and after winning four in a row are now in the box seat for 8th and now it depends entirely on them whether they will get the last spot in the top half. Even though Incheon have been playing well, to go and get the win away in Ulsan last round was a big surprise with an early goal to ex-Premier League striker Seol Ki Hyun. Who is to say that they can’t get their third away win in a row here in Jeonbuk as on current form they have every chance. A loss here might not be the end of their challenge but would make things a lot harder and the defense will have to be at their best to stop the Jeonbuk attacking juggernaut that have scored the most in the league. On paper, Jeonbuk should easily win this but Incheon have such momentum at the moment it is hard to say what exactly will happen in this one. I find it hard to believe that Incheon could win three in a row on the road, as their club history shows how rare this feat has been for them. Incheon are much improved but I think Jeonbuk will bounce back after a weeks rest. Pred: 2-0.
FUN FACT: Incheon have only ever won three or more away games in a row four times in the clubs history.

*Jeju vs. Seongnam – both of these teams have been disappointing of late and a bad run of results have left both these teams reassessing their goals for the rest of the season. Since the summer vacation started, it seems Jeju have forgotten how to win and perhaps they are spending too much time on the beach. Winless in six games during the summer break, they will want to give the home fans something to cheer about. They almost snatched an unlikely victory in Jeonju last weekend but had to be satisfied with a draw due to a very late goal to extend the misery. It is hard to put a finger on what has gone so badly at Jeju all of a sudden and what was once a team with an outside of chance of winning the title will have to settle for mid-table mediocrity. Seongnam also have had to re-evaluate the season and what was looking to be a sure top eight finish has seen them fade into the bottom half. They can still mathematically make the top eight but have to win this game and hope all three teams above them lose theirs. Seongnam did put on a great display however last round, with mid-season signing Reina breaking his duck, getting a brace and Seongnam will need plenty more of that. For all their recent bad form, they are travelling well and have won three of their last four on the road, albeit against teams currently in the bottom half. Seongnam haven’t done too well against Jeju in recent years either and will need to turn this around if they are to keep their season alive. A loss here and the best they can hope for is 9th, not what the team would have wanted at the start of the season. Going to be close so perhaps a draw could be a good bet. Pred: 1-1.
FUN FACT: Seongnam haven’t beaten a top eight team away from home since October 2010 (Ulsan).

*Suwon vs. Daejeon (7:30) – the final midweek game before the split takes us to Suwon and a game that has a little bit of rivalry attached to it. In their first matchup earlier this season, the win for Daejeon over Suwon 2-1 kicked off their best run of the season and Kevin Oris was the hero that day with a double. After sitting out last weekends win at Gwangju due to suspension he will be fired up and ready to go. Suwon also had a nice win away from home last weekend as well, going to Seoul and beating them at Sangam for the second time this season by 2-0. For all the recent struggles that Suwon have been through they may have seen the light at the end of the tunnel as now they have won two straight and would be confident of a third win in a row here. They are only seven points behind the front two and another slip up at the top will see them right back in contention. Daejeon can’t seem to escape the fight at the bottom and even with a win are only two points above the last placed team. It is very important they keep it rolling as every point will count at the end of the season. Daejeon have now won two in a row away from their home, including that great win over Jeonbuk so could they possibly skin another big scalp here. They really do seem to lift for the bigger teams but do find it very tough in Suwon winning only once there in the clubs history. With Suwon winning 3-1 in their last two home games, it could be likely that we could see a similar scoreline again. Daejeon can have some good performances but this one could be too hard. Pred 3-1.
FUN FACT: Daejeon have NEVER won three away league games in a row…a win here over Suwon would be a new CLUB RECORD.

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