Spread over three days with two Monday Night Football matches to look forward to, Round 24 of the 2019 K League 2 season promises to be one of the most exciting yet. The standout match of the round is the top two, Gwangju FC and Busan IPark, going head to head in a match which could have a huge say in which team wins automatic promotion to the top tier. Elsewhere, Seoul E-Land host FC Anyang looking to make it four wins in the bounce, and Suwon FC look to turn their season around by beating promotion hopefuls Ansan Greeners. For that and much more, K League United Editor Paul Neat previews all five matches in K League 2 Round 24.
Saturday 17th August
#GWAvBUS: Gwangju FC (1st) vs Busan IPark (2nd) 19:00
Much like how Ulsan Hyundai and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors went head to head on Friday in K League 1, the top two in the second tier will clash this Saturday when league leaders Gwangju FC welcome Busan IPark to Guus Hiddink Stadium. Gwangju currently sit five points clear at the K League 2 summit but know that anything less than three points could well be enough to spur Cho Dukje's Busan IPark side into a late push for the title. The Yellows have drawn their last two and have faltered a touch of late with two wins in five, something of a contrast compared to just a month ago when the South Jeolla side looked unstoppable. For the visit of Busan, Gwangju will have Choi Junhyeok and Park Jeongsoo both available for selection again, the midfielder duo were both forced to sit out the 1-1 draw with Bucheon through suspension. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Choi Bongjin has returned from Asan Mugunghwa and could be involved in the match day squad.
Busan, meanwhile, will make the trip west on the back of two straight wins, one defeat in five and two defeats in 15. Despite sitting in second the South Coast side have the league's most potent attack with 47 goals scored, nine more than Gwangju. Hungarian forward Soma Novothny, who has eight goals in nine starts for Busan in 2019, is back from suspension and but might have to make do with a place on the bench with leading scorer Lee Jeonghyeop and Kim Dongjun, who bagged against Daejeon last time out, likely to keep their places. Incredibly, the last five meetings between these two sides have ended in stalemates, both the previous meetings this season ended in 1-1 draws. In the first meeting this term on 17th March, Felipe levelled just after the hour mark to restore parity after fellow countryman, Rômulo's 49th minute strike had given IPark the lead. Felipe was on hand again to fire in an equaliser when the two sides met in Gwangju on 12th May, this time in the 90th minute to cancel out Lee Dongjun's 69th minute opener.
#SUWvANS: Suwon FC (6th) vs Ansan Greeners (5th) 19:00
A run of three games without a win, and just one win in eight with six defeats has left a sizeable dent in the Suwon's pursuit of the playoffs. Kim Daeui's men now sit six points behind Asan Mugunghwa in fourth but just two points behind Saturday's opponents Ansan Greeners. The Green Wolves, meanwhile, find themselves in previously uncharted territory sitting just outside the playoffs. However, after three wins on the spin, Lim Wanseop's side have since lost their last two. A win for the Greeners would be most welcome, certainly if the Gyeonggi Province side are serious about creeping into those much coveted playoff places. However, if Ansan are to pick up all three points, the 2017-founded club will have to pick up a first win over Suwon this term having lost 3-2 and 2-1 in the two previous meetings in 2019.
Suwon FC will know that anything less than a victory could all-but end their playoff ambitions with just 13 games left of the season. For Suwon FC, defender Kim Youngchan is suspended after picking up three yellows for the season, but centre back Lee Hansaem and midfielder Lim Changgyun are both in contention having returned from military service with former police team Asan Mugunghwa. For Ansan, Kim Yeonsoo will miss out through suspension after picking up a third caution of the season last weekend. From the 10 previous encounters Ansan have four wins, as do Suwon with two draws. At the Wa~ Stadium, Ansan have just one win over Suwon, a 1-0 victory in April 2018.
Sunday 18th August
#SEFCvANY: Seoul E-Land (9th) vs FC Anyang (3rd) 19:00
Despite picking up just one win from the first 20 K League 2 outings, Seoul E-Land are now on a run of three straight victories, enough to move the Leopards up off the foot of the table. The Jamsil, or Cheonan Civic Stadium faithful, as it has been for much of the 2019 campaign, haven't seen three wins on the spin since 2017 when the Leopards beat Bucheon, Daejeon, Asan and Gyeongnam on a four-match winning run throughout August that year. Up next at Jamsil is the visit of Anyang, a side who have defied the expectations of many by sitting third in the table and on course for a title at the playoffs. The Violets are on an incredible run eight games unbeaten with six wins, including the 7-1 demolition of league leaders Gwangju at the end of July.
However, Anyang will be without the services of full back Kim Wonmin and centre back Yoo Jonghyeon who have picked up a third and sixth yellow of the season respectively. Star striker Cho Kyuseong is also suspended following the 21 year-old's dismissal towards the tail end of the 4-2 win over Jeonnam Dragons last weekend. Cho has 10 for the season for the Violets, the league's second highest goal scorers with 43, just four fewer than Busan. Both teams head into Sunday's match in good form and both with a win against each other this season, Anyang came out on top when the sides met in May thanks to a 2-1 victory after E-Land's 4-1 demolition in April.
Monday 19th August
#DCFCvBUC: Daejeon Citizen (10th) vs Bucheon FC 1995 (7th) 19:00
Following a fourth loss in their last six, 12 in 15 and 15th of the season, Daejeon Citizen fell to the bottom of the K League 2 table last weekend. Seoul E-Land's win over Suwon FC on Monday was enough to see the Leopards leapfrog the Purples who now have little else other than pride to play for this term. Up next for downtrodden Daejeon is the visit of Bucheon FC 1995 this Monday evening. Daejeon have beaten Bucheon at home once already this term, a 1-0 victory thanks to an Aurelian Chițu goal back in April. However, Daejeon have picked up just one win since - a run which spanned over 100 days and 1260 minutes of football.
Bucheon, meanwhile, head into Monday's clash with Daejeon sat firmly in mid-table. The Reds are in seventh and 11 points behind the playoff places meaning that a first foray into the post season since 2016 is not impossible but most likely improbable. The Reds are without a win since the beginning of July, a run which has spanned five matches. However, Reds manager Song Sunho will have Cho Beomseok available for the first time since taking over following the forward's return from military service with Asan. Daejeon will be without centre back Lee Jungmoon after the first year professional picked up a third yellow of the season against Busan.
#JNDvASA: Jeonnam Dragons (8th) vs Asan Mugunghwa (4th) 19:00
Manager-less Jeonnam Dragons will be looking to bounce back from last week's disappointing 4-2 reverse away to FC Anyang when a depleted Asan Mugnghwa make the long trip south on Monday. The 2019 campaign, Jeonnam's first ever outside the top tier in Korean football, hasn't quite gone to plan. The Dragons sit in eighth place and are without a win in their last four with three defeats. That said, a win over Asan could see the South Jeolla side move level on points with Bucheon in seventh should Daejeon overcome the Reds in Monday night's other K League 2 fixture.
Jeonnam will be without the services of Kim Youngwook through suspension but Kim Junsu is in contention for a first Dragons appearance since 2017 after returning from Asan Mugunghwa. Elsewhere, Brazilian striker Bruno Baio is available once again after serving a one-match ban. There have only been three previous meetings between these two sides, the first of which was in the FA Cup last October when Jeonnam needed a penalty shootout to overcome Mugunghwa. In the league, the two teams played out a 1-1 draw in Asan last month after Park Donghyuk's side ran out 3-0 winners over Jeonnam the last time these two sides met in Gwangyang.
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K League United Associate Editor