Just eight matches remain in K League 2 meaning that we are well and truly at the business end of the season. Before the top two go head to head on Monday night when Busan IPark host Gwangju FC, FC Anyang will be looking to keep their playoff push on course when Seoul E-Land make the short trip to Anyang Civic Stadium. For all that and more, K League United Editor Paul Neat previews K League 2 Round 29.
Saturday 21st September
#SUWvDCFC: Suwon FC (6th) vs Daejeon Citizen (10th) 19:00
The only K League 2 match to take place this Saturday is the evening kick off between Suwon FC and Daejeon Citizen. Suwon FC find themselves with an outside chance of making the playoffs but given that Kim Daeui’s side are on just one win in nine, it would take a considerable upturn in fortunes for them to do so. Prior to the unlikely win over FC Anyang on Tuesday, their last win in fact was the 4-2 win over Daejeon when these two teams last met in July. Key for Suwon is Nigerian striker Chisom, who has 13 for the season and second in the K League 2 scoring charts behind Gwangju’s Felipe. Chisom has two goals against Citizen already this term having scored the second goal in both of Suwon’s 2-0 wins over the Purples this term and will be one for Daejeon's defence to tame come Saturday evening,.
Daejeon, meanwhile, kept their fourth consecutive cleansheet following the 0-0 draw at home to promotion-chasing Busan IPark on Tuesday night. The result now means that, for those with the glass half full, the Purples are on an unbeaten run of four matches. However, a VAR-assisted penalty converted by Kim Seungseop remains the only goal Lee Heungsil’s side have scored in that time. Citizen’s struggle for goals has been the story of their season having scored just 18 times, 13 fewer than ninth place Seoul E-Land, and 19 fewer than Saturday’s opponents Suwon FC. Despite winning just five games all season, three of those victories have come away from home. That said, Suwon have come out on top in each of the three meetings between the two teams this season, including a 2-0 defeat for Daejeon’s last visit to Castle Park.
Sunday 22nd September
#ANYvSEFC: FC Anyang (3rd) vs Seoul E-Land (9th) 17:00
With just nine matches to go until the end of the regular season, FC Anyang look set for a first ever K League 2 playoff campaign. A Line 4 Derby away win over Ansan Greeners in Round 27 saw Kim Hyungryul's side up into third. Top scorer Cho Kyuseong, who recently earned a call-up to Kim Hakbum's Korea U23 squad, will be looking to add to his tally of 12, and is now just four goals behind Gwangju's Felipe in the golden boot race. Another key figure for Anyang is Alex who has 11 goals himself this term, not to mention four assists. However, the 2-0 defeat to Suwon in midweek, means that the Violets may well be looking precariously over their shoulders with Ansan Greeners also determined to secure third place.
A last gasp equaliser at home to Jeonnam Dragons salvaged a draw for Seoul E-Land on Tuesday night meaning that Coach Woo's side remain off the foot of the K League 2 table. The Leopards took an early lead through Duarte but goals from Bruno and Jung Jaehee in the second half turned the game on its head for the Dragons. But, in the dying embers, Choi Jonghwan, with his first of the campaign, chested the ball down before firing past Dragons 'keeper Park Junhyuk. E-Land are without a win in four but must take credit for their comebacks against Busan IPark in round 26 as well as against Jeonnam on Tuesday. Interestingly, E-Land's last win was against Sunday's opponent FC Anyang - a 2-0 triumph in mid August at home. Seoul E-Land picked up an emphatic win over the Violets in the first meeting this term, a 4-1 demolition in Cheonan back in April, but were on the receiving end of a 2-1 defeat the last time these two sides met in Anyang. The Leapords will be without Ahn Jiho following the defender's red card against Daejeon, as well as Kim Dongcheol due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
You can read Michael Redmon's full preview here.
#ANSvBUC: Ansan Greeners (4th) vs Bucheon FC 1995 (7th) 19:00
With Anyang falling to defeat in midweek, there was an opportunity for Ansan Greeners to reclaim third spot. On 87 minutes, when Mashatoshi Ishida fired Ansan in front, it looked as though the Green Wolves were going to do just that. However, in the dying embers, Nam Heecheol ensured that the spoils were shared, with a first goal in professional football having made the step up from the National League last term. The result means that the top five remains unchanged and Ansan are still chasing the Violets for third but can take solace in knowing that gap between fourth and fifth is four points heading into the weekend's fixtures. Bucheon FC 1995, meanwhile, after a 1-1 draw of their own last Sunday, lost to league leaders Gwangju FC in midweek, leaving the west Gyeonggi Province side sitting in seventh and with little chance of making the playoffs.
Bucheon are firmly in mid-table but will still be clinging on to slim hopes of a break into the top four. At present, the Reds sit in seventh place and 10 points off the pace. Along with Asan Mugunghwa, Bucheon are the lowest scores in the top seven with goals coming at a premium. Marlon de Jesús is the club's top scorer with eight but has largely been deployed as an impact sub; the 1-0 loss to Gwangju was the Colombian's first start in a month. Bucheon have no fewer than five players who are just one booking away from a one-match ban, de Jesús being one of them along with fellow forwards Kim Ryundo and Lee Kwangjae, midfielder Jang Hyunsoo, and defender Park Kun. From the three previous meetings this season, Ansan have two wins to Bucheon's one. Said Bucheon victory did come at the Wa~, however, a 1-0 victory courtesy of a Lee Injae own goal. Overall, from 11 previous encounters, Ansan have five wins, Bucheon four with the remaining games ending in stalemates.
Monday 23rd September
#BUSvGWA: Busan IPark (2nd) vs Gwangju FC (1st) 20:00
Busan’s 0-0 draw away to Daejeon Citizen on Tuesday night put a considerable dent in the south coast side’s last gasp attempts to pip Gwangju to the K League 2 title. The gap between the two stands at eight points heading into the weekend;s fixtures leaving Monday's clash a must win for Cho Dukje’s Busan side. IPark have now drawn their last five matches and so are without a win since round 23, a home win over Daejeon Citizen. Korean international right back Kim Moonhwan is out through suspension after picking up a sixth yellow card for the season in the 0-0 draw with Daejeon, but otherwise Coach Cho should have a relatively full squad to choose form. In the second half on Tuesday night, the former Suwon FC manager brought Lee Jeonghyeop, Rômulo, and Lee Dongjun off the bench to try and break the deadlock. It was only after Rômulo's introduction in the 64th minute that Busan begin to create any meaningful opportunities.
Up next is the visit of league leaders, and seemingly K League 2 Champions elect, Gwangju FC, who were able to capitalise on Busan dropping points by easing past Bucheon at home on Wednesday, Ratinho with the all important goal in a 1-0 win. Ratinho's compatriot Felipe will be missing for Monday's crucial clash through suspension but given that the towering forward hasn't found the back of the net since early August, a run of six games, the Yellows might just be able to pick up a result without him, despite leading the K League 2 scoring charts. Uzbek centre back Ashurmatov is also suspended, forcing a change at the back for coach Park Jinseop. Head to head this season all three games have ended in 1-1 draws, a similar result on Monday would no doubt suit Gwangju but could mean a third successive playoff campaign for Busan IPark.
#ASAvJND: Asan Mugungwha (5th) vs Jeonnam Dragons (9th) 20:00
It was revealed this week that by the 30th September the future of Asan Mugunghwa Football Club will be decided after reports broke that the city of Asan were no longer willing to fund a professional football club. The news, then will give hope to players and supports alike an could well be enough to further motivate Park Donghyuk's men into one final push for the playoffs. Asan are in fifth and four points behind Ansan and so will have to rely on results elsewhere in order to to do, but should the current K League 2 champions manage to end a run of five games without a win, there could be something to play for come November. However, Asan will be without Nam Heecheol, the 24 year-old striker who bagged his first K League goal, the equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Ansan Greeners last time out. Nam picked up a third caution of the season and so will sit out the visit of Jeonnam.
For Jeonnam, talk of the playoffs is a tad more far-fetched than Asan. In order for the Dragons to make it into the top four, then making up the 11 point gap may hinge on the next 20 days, during which the Gwangyang-based outfit face Asan, Anyang, Suwon, and Daejeon. Defender Kim Geonwoong, who has made 26 appearances for the Dragons this term, is out through suspension but, apart from which, caretaker manager Jeon Kyungjun should have a relatively full squad at his disposal. There have only been for previous meeting between Asan Mugunghwa and Jeonnam Dragons, three of which came in the league this season. Each side has one victory each, Jeonnam coming out on top in the last meeting with a 2-0 victory in August, whilst Asan began the new season with a 2-0 win at Dragon Dungeon. Last season, however, Jeonnam eased past Asan in the FA Cup with a penalty shootout win in the quarter finals.
[READ: K League 1 Round 30 Preview.]
K League United Associate Editor