K-League One returns this weekend after it’s week long break for ‘International Week’ and most of the players will have had the chance to recharge their batteries, well apart from those who play in the Jeonbuk defence. The table has a rather strange look to it as we have Gyeongnam and Gangwon joint top after their perfect starts and Pohang occupying the final automatic ACL spot. With both Gyengnam and Gangown facing each other this Sunday, something has to give in their 100% records and that is why it’s this week’s ‘Match of the Day’
2018 K-League One ~ Match Day 3 – ‘Match of the Day’
Gangwon vs Gyeongnam
The final kick-off of the weekend sees us travel to Chuncheon as Gangwon welcome the 2018 surprise package that is Gyeongnam to town. As mentioned above both the sides have an unbeaten 100% record so far this season managing to win all 3 of their games, with Gyeongnam in particular winning in style.
Hosts Gangwon spent ‘big’ in preparation for the 2017 season and fell a little short of their own lofty expectations although this year it looks like they have dusted off the winter cobwebs quicker that most and have taken advantage of the sluggish starts from the main title challengers. They come into the game on the back of a 2-1 victory over the Army in Round 3 as Diego Mauricio had them 2-0 ahead at half-time. They have actually won all three of their matches 2-1 and against FC Seoul a few weeks ago showed that they have the mental strength to come back from a goal down. Ever-present Lee Keun Ho (pictured left) has been wearing the captain’s armband this year and has definitely been leading from the front and was unfortunate not to find himself among the goals in both of their previous matches. He has really become far more influential on the pitch these days and looks far from the player who blended into the pitch in his Jeonbuk loan spell. If he is allowed time on the ball on Sunday he has the potential to be the match winner.
However K-League One ‘new boys’ Gyeongnam, who have the league’s best attacking and defensive records, are also having the season of dreams and are proving to be anything but the ‘cannon fodder’ that many predicted. They have a +6 goal difference and, rather amazingly, haven’t found themselves behind in a match so far. They come into the game on the back of a 3-1 away victory at Jeonnam in a match which they controlled almost from kick-off with Marcao (pictured right above) sealing the win from the spot. That was the Brazilian’s fourth goal in two league games and he is already staking a claim for The Golden Boot even this early in the season. He was suspended for their 2-0 victory over Jeju in Round 2 and that tendency to be in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ might be something that he needs to rein in if he is to finish the season as the top scorer.
The teams have met a total of 23 times down the years and it’s Gyeongnam who come out on top of the head-to-head with ten wins and only the four losses. The teams last met in 2016 in the old K-League Challenge with Gangwon failing to record a victory that year and in fact you need to go back to the 2015 FA Cup for the last time they won, a 2-1 victory in the 3rd round. With both teams finding themselves in surprising positions there is always the fear that a defeat might send the loser spiraling back down to more familiar surroundings.
Prediction: Score Draw : Gangwon 2 – Gyeongnam 2
Also in K-League One this weekend we have…..
Pohang Steelers v Ulsan Hyundai ~ Prediction : 2-1
Jeju United v Suwon Bluewings ~ Prediction : 1-1
Jeonbuk Motors v Sangju Sangmu ~ Prediction : 3-1
Daegu FC v Jeonnam Dragons ~ Prediction : 0-1
FC Seoul v Incheon United ~ Prediction : 2-1