With the sweltering summer months simmering down a touch, the business end of the 2018 K League 2 season is beginning to heat up. The automatic promotion race is starting to gather pace too with Busan IPark now aiming to make it a three-horse race for this final furlong. Can IPark keep up their automatic promotion pursuit with an away win over playoff-chasing Gwangju? Will it be Asan Mugunghwa or Seongnam FC finishing the round on top spot when they face FC Anyang and Seoul E-Land respectively? Elsewhere, the battle for those much-coveted playoff spots is reaching fever pitch and both Suwon FC and Daejeon Citizen are making late surges, both of whom meet on Monday night. For all this and more, your comprehensive guide to round 26 of the 2018 K League 2 season by Paul Neat
Saturday 1st September
#GWAvBUS: Gwangju FC (5th) vs Busan IPark (3rd) 19:00
Gwangju’s run of four consecutive draws has seen the South Jeolla club slip out of the top four. The most recent of the four stalemates was away to FC Anyang last Monday night. With star striker and K2 leading goal-scorer, Na Sangho, at the Asian Games, Gwangu have had to look elsewhere for firepower. Recent acquisition, Felipe, bagged a brace against Seoul E-Land in the previous-but-one round, as well as scoring the game’s opener for the 1-1 home draw with Asan Mugungwha. The Gwangju faithful will be hoping that the Brazilian can have an impact this coming Saturday when their team welcome automatic promotion –chasing Busan IPark. Busan’s unbeaten run came to an end at home to Suwon FC last Saturday but Cho Yunkyum will still believe that his side can edge their way into the title race. IPark have lost just three times in sixteen outings but the south coast side haven’t beaten Gwangju since May 2015, the last meeting ended in a draw but the previous two encounters resulted in Gwangju wins.
#ANYvASA: FC Anyang (9th) vs Asan Mugunghwa (1st) 19:00
Determined not to return to the foot of the K League 2 table, FC Anyang will hoping they can pull off an upset when the Violets host the league leaders, Asan Mugunghwa, this Saturday. Ko Jeongwoon’s team, however, are only able to boast of one win in their last five. The police team, Asan, make the short trip north to Gyeonggi Province as the league’s pace setters after easing their way to the K2 summit with a comprehensive 3-1 victory over a struggling Seoul E-Land side last time out. Whilst Asan won’t have midfield starlet Hwang Inbeom available due to the on-loan Daejeon Citizen youngster’s involvement in the Asian Games, Asan Gaffer Park Donghyuk has a relatively full squad to choose from. Ko Muyeol and Lee Myeongju notched last time out and will be two players that the Violets will have to be wary of come Saturday, especially if they are to pick up their first ever win over Asan Mugunghwa. The last meeting ended in a 3-0 defeat in Anyang but the Violets can take some pride in the 1-1 draw at Yisunsin Stadium in March this year.
You can readBranko Belan’s full preview and prediction here
Sunday 2nd September
#BUCvANS: Bucheon 1995 (7th) vs Ansan Greeners (10th)
Two sides who are in desperate need of a win for various reasons are Bucheon 1995 and Ansan Greeners. Despite being tipped as potential playoff contenders, Sunday’s hosts, Bucheon, are on a dismal run of form. Jung Gabsuk’s men have now slipped to seventh in the table after picking up five points from 27 on offer since the World Cup break. Ansan Greeners’ dismal run of form has now extended to 10 straight defeats in all competitions. Manager Lee Heungsil stepped down after the 1-0 home reverse to Asan Mugunghwa before Lee Youngmin was made caretaker gaffer shortly after. Lee’s first game in charge was a 1-0 away defeat to Daejeon Citizen. If either of these sides are to stop the rot then it’s in front of goals where improvements ought to be made. Bucheon are without their leading marksman, Willian Popp, after the Brazilian picked up a thigh injury against Suwon. Ansan, meanwhile, have scored just twice in 10 outings. The last meeting between the two clubs ended in a draw back in May in Bucheon.
Monday 3rd September
#DCFCvSUW: Daejeon Citizen (6th) vs Suwon FC (4th)
Both Daejeon Citizen and Suwon FC head into Monday’s crucial clash knowing that the victors could well finish the round in the playoff places for the first time this season. Neither side have endured what would have been their ideal start to the campaign but, after finding form at the right time, the 2014 K League Challenge title winners, and the 2015 K League Promotion/Relegation winners now seem to have their seasons back on track. Citizen managed to avoid defeat throughout August thanks to three wins and two draws and just two goals conceded. The inhabitants of Castle Park, Suwon FC, have crept up into fourth place and make the trip to Purple Arena on the back of an extremely impressive 1-0 away victory over Busan IPark. Kim Daeui’s side can also boast of an unbeaten August with an even better points return to boot having picked up 12 points from a possible 15. Who will come out on top when these two sides meet at Purple Arena on Monday night? Suwon were the victors when these teams last met in Daejeon, a 2-0 win sent Suwon back to the capital area with the lion’s share of the spoils in early July, but Daejeon came away with all three points after April’s encounter at Castle Park.
#ELANDvSFC: Seoul E-Land (8th) vs Seongnam FC (2nd)
Seoul E-Land have managed just won victory throughout the month of August, a 2-0 away win over a hapless Bucheon 1995 side. Since then, In Changsoo’s E-Land side have shipped 12 goals, scored three and have just a solitary point to show for their endeavours. Eighth in the table and four points adrift of seventh doesn’t make great reading for the Leo Park faithful, especially when E-Lands next opposition is taken into account. One of the favourites for automatic promotion, Seongnam FC, make the short trip up the Bundang Line into Jamsil with the K2 summit firmly in sight. Should Anyang do the Magpies a favour on Saturday by beating Asan, a win at Jamsil would ensure Nam Ki-il’s side a return to the top of the table. However, August has been one for sorrow for the Magpies having picked up just two wins from five; defeats to Gwangju and Busan, as well as a draw with Suwon, has loosened the Magpies’ grasp on the only automatic promotion berth. Furthermore, each of the last four meetings between these two sides has ended in stalemates, two of which have come at Jamsil. In fact, Seongnam have never beaten Seoul E-Land from the six previous meetings.