With just five points separating Gwangju FC in first and Busan IPark in second, there is still something of a title race in K League 2. However, if IPark are to avoid a third successive playoff campaign then a positive result away to Seoul E-Land on Saturday night is a must. Gwangju, meanwhile, have a tricky trip to high-flying Ansan Greeners, a side who look on course for a first tilt at the top four since their foundation in 2017. Elsewhere, FC Anyang take on basement side Daejeon Citizen, Suwon FC host Jeonnam Dragons, and Asan Mugunghwa welcome Bucheon FC 1995 to Yi Sun-sin Stadium. K League United Editor Paul Neat previews K League 2 Round 26.
Saturday 31st August
#ANYvDCFC: FC Anyang (3rd) vs Daejeon Citizen (10th) 19:00
Daejeon Citizen manager Lee Heungsil began his tenure in charge of the Purples with a trip to the Violets, FC Anyang at the beginning of July. That evening, Daejeon fell to a 2-1 defeat thanks to a Cho Kyuseong brace before Ahn Sanghyeon added a late consolation from the spot. Since then, Daejeon have picked up just one win in eight outings, putting the citizen club in grave danger of finishing bottom of the K League 2 table for the second time in three seasons. Four points separates Daejeon with Seoul E-Land in ninth meaning that another defeat at Anyang Sports Complex could all but condemn the downtrodden side to the K League 2 wooden spoon. FC Anyang, meanwhile, sit in third and with a fantastic chance of reaching the playoffs for the first time in their history. The last time the Violets came this close to a tilt at promotion was in Daejeon's title winning season in 2014 when what was then Lee Woohyung’s side tailed off and ended up finishing fifth.
Although Anyang gaffer Kim Hyungryul will be happy with his side’s league position, heading into Saturday’s visit of Daejeon, however, the south Gyeonggi Province side are on a run of just one win in five with three draws. Last time out Anyang side drew 1-1 with second placed Busan IPark but only four of their seven defeats this term have come against teams in the current bottom half. A win would be most welcome to the Anyang faithful as just a point separates the Violets from Line 4 Derby rivals Ansan Greeners in fourth place. Anyang will have promising youngster and top scorer Cho Kyuseong back in contention after serving a two-match ban, Daejeon meanwhile, will have former captain Ahn Sanghyeon back from suspension also.
#SEFCvBUS: Seoul E-Land (9th) vs Busan IPark (2nd) 19:00
Seoul E-Land’s purple patch of from, which saw the capital club pick up four wins on the spin, came to an abrupt end last time out following a 3-1 home defeat to playoff hopefuls Ansan Greeners. The Leopards find themselves in ninth and nine points behind Jeonnam Dragons who sit one place above them in the K League 2 table. Up next for Woo Sungyong’s men is the visit of promotion hopefuls Busan IPark. Busan’s hopes of automatic promotion could be all but over if Cho Dukje's side lose any more ground on leaders Gwangju. IPark have drawn their last two including one against league leaders Gwangju FC, but have lost just four times this term with only one defeat coming against a team outside the current top four.
A third consecutive playoff campaign beckons for the South Coast side, barring any last minute collapse from Gwangju. Sitting in second, Busan would go straight into the Promotion Final and have home advantage with the winner then going on to a two-legged affair against the team who finishes second bottom in K League 1. Busan are the league's highest scorers with 49 goals, nearly double the amount which E-Land have amassed this term with 26. Busan have won the last six meetings between these two sides and haven’t lost to Seoul E-Land in three years.
Sunday 1st September
#ANSvGWA: Ansan Greeners (4th) vs Gwangju FC (1st) 19:00
Ansan Greeners are enjoying their best season yet, sitting in fourth place and on course for a playoff push for the first time in their short history. Lim Wanseop’s men have quietly gone about their business this term and have lost just twice since the last meeting with Sunday’s opponents Gwangju, a run that has spanned seven matches. With five victories from those seven outings, including a win over Busan IPark, the Green Wolves will perhaps fancy themselves against the league leaders. Top scorer Gustavo Vintecinco has two in is last two outings and is on course to be only the second player to reach double figures for the club.
Gwangju make the trip north on the back of four straight draws, a run that has seen their lead at the top of the table shorten to five points. The Yellows' top scorer Felipe has 16 goals to his name this term, already surpassing the tally achieved my Na Sangho who finished as the K League 2 MVP last season. Felipe, though, unlike his compatriot Vintecinco, has drawn a blank in his last two. Yellows gaffer Park Jinseop will no doubt be hoping that the towering centre forward can find his shooting boots in time for Sunday. A defeat to the Greeners, coupled with a Busan win away to E-Land on Saturday, could blow the title race right open heading into the last stretch of the season. However, Gwangju's last away defeat dates back to the playoffs last year, losing 1-0 to eventual finalists Daejeon.
#ASAvBUC: Asan Mugunghwa (5th) vs Bucheon FC 1995 (7th) 19:00
Life without the likes of Ju Sejong and Lee Myoungju has already begun for Asan Mugunghwa. The former police team, which faces an uncertain future following reports that Asan City government revealed that they are to no longer fund a professional football club, have slipped to fifth. However, the show must go on for Park Donghyuk and his squad who will be looking to get back to winning ways following last week's 1-1 draw with Suwon and the 2-0 defeat to Jeonnam two rounds ago. Yang Taeryeol and Park Sejik occupied the two central midfield spots in the absence of the FC Seoul duo, Park Minseo lined up along side Oh Sehun in attack.
Sunday's opponents Bucheon look set for another season of mid-table mediocrity, sitting in seventh and 10 points behind the top four. If the Reds are to mount a late push for those much coveted playoff places then a win against Asan Mugunghwa this Sunday will be needed. However, with just one win in their last seven, a first maximum of the season over Asan will be easier said than done. In fact, since Asan's inception in 2017, Bucheon have just one win over their Chungcheong Province counterparts - a 3-0 victory in September 2017.
#SUWvJND: Suwon FC (6th) vs Jeonnam Dragons (8th) 19:00
Two teams which are in danger of having little else other than pride to play for in the latter stages of the season meet at Castle Park this Sunday when Suwon FC take on Jeonnam Dragons. Throughout mid May and into June, Kin Daeui's men recorded five wins from six to put themselves in contention for the playoffs. However, Suwon's mid season promise seems like a distant memory for the Suwon fans who have since seen their team fail to pick up a single win from their five games and just one win in 10. Despite Suwon's dismal run of form, Nigerian forward Chisom Egbuchunam has four goals in his last three to take his tally to 12 in the league this term.
Sunday's visitors Jeonnam Dragons have parted company with their manager since the last trip to Suwon. Under caretaker manager Jeon Kyungjun, the Dragons have picked up six points from a possible 12 with two wins and two defeats. Jeonnam have managed to pick up two league wins on the spin for the first time this time last year. However, the Gwangyang-based side are yet to beat Suwon this term having lost at home in May after a 1-1 stalemate a month before. When Suwon were last in the same division as Jeonnam in 2016, the two teams met three times with two draws and one Jeonnam win. A win for Suwon could spark a late push for the playoffs but they will need to rely on results elsewhere. Meanwhile, a win for Jeonnam could be enough to see the Jeolla side move up to seventh.
[READ: K League 1 Round 28 Preview.]