Jeju United play their final home match of the season against Suwon FC on Saturday afternoon needing a win to keep their slim chances of qualifying for Asia next year on the cards. The visitors to the island this weekend have some momentum with them following their 3-2 victory over Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors last time out and they have won all three meetings against the islanders in 2021. K League United's Branko Belan
looks ahead to the match.
After opening the playoff round with back-to-back victories against Daegu FC and Suwon Samsung Bluewings, Jeju lost to Ulsan Hyundai last weekend to remain fourth in the table on 51 points. The gap between third and fourth has increased to four points, meaning that both of their remaining matches are must-wins.
Their final match of the season is an away trip to Jeonju to face Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. If the islanders somehow manage to come away with three points, it could directly impact the title race, whether they are in the conversation for a place in next year's Asian Champions League or not.
Suwon FC snatched a late victory against Jeonbuk last Sunday for their first win in the playoff round after losses to Ulsan Hyundai and Daegu FC. Lee Yeong-jae and Lars Veldwijk scored first half goals for the red and blue, but Moon Seon-min and Gustavo from the penalty spot scored five minutes apart in the latter stages of the second half to level proceedings. Just as it seemed the teams would share the spoils, Jung Jae-yong netted the winner with one minute left in regulation, giving Kim Do-kyun's men all three points.
Lee Chang-min has been missing for Jeju the past two matches. He picked up a knock in the match against Daegu and was not cleared to play. His status for Saturday's match is still uncertain but he should get the call in the starting eleven if he is fit. Should he be unavailable, his place in the lineup will be taken by Lee Dong-su.
Kim Young-wook, who missed most of the season, recently returned to action and will likely start this weekend if Kim Bong-su is kept on the bench. Nam Ki-il has played with a 3-4-3 formation virtually all season and there is no reason to believe he has any inclination to change it.
Jeong Jae-yong and Lars Veldwijk will once again be focal points in attack for Suwon, and Murilo will also be a key man in terms of distribution in the final third. Kim Do-kyun will most likely stay with similar tactics and the same starting eleven that defeated Jeonbuk last weekend.
Head to Head
After Jeju outraced Suwon to the K League 2 title last season, this weekend's visitors have won all three fixtures against the Tangerines this season. In the first meeting back in April, Jeju lost by a score of 2-1 after a late equalizer was ruled out for handball. Suwon comfortably won the second encounter by a score of 3-1 at the beginning of May.
The last match in August was decided by just a single goal, with Lars Veldwijk converting a penalty in the 66th minute. Jeju will have to keep him off the score sheet this time around in order to increase their chances of winning.
What to Watch
The Golden Boot race is Heating Up
The top two strikers in the first division will face off against one another for the final time this season with both looking to add to their respective goal tallies. Joo Min-kyu currently occupies top spot in the goal-scoring race with twenty-one markers to his credit, while Lars Veldwijk is just now three behind with eighteen.
While he was left off the score sheet against Ulsan, Joo had scored twice in each of his previous matches before the last round. He scored two against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on the final day of the regular season, including a last-gasp penalty in second-half injury time to snatch a point and clinch a Final A berth. He then scored twice more from the spot in a 5-0 romp against Daegu FC. He followed that up with both goals against Suwon Bluewings. A goal on Saturday afternoon could cement his place as the Golden Boot winner in 2021 - it would also be his 100th K League goal.
Veldwijk has scored in all three playoff matches for Suwon FC and knows he could be the difference-maker if he can get past the Jeju defense as he has already done this season. The South African striker needs a big finish if he is to take back the scoring lead which he had held for much of the season until Joo exploded recently. He is one of the most natural finishers in the league and his skills will surely be on display when the two sides meet again on Saturday.
Where to Watch
Jeju United versus Suwon FC kicks off at 2 PM on Saturday 27th November 2021. Fans in countries with K League overseas broadcasting rights can follow the game live on television. More information can be found here
Alternatively, the match is also available for FREE on tv.kleague.com
K League United Columnist