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Playoff Final First Leg Preview: Daejeon Hana Citizen vs Gangwon FC

league 2021.12.07   I   조회수 643

The wait is finally over as this Wednesday Daejeon Hana Citizen will take on Gangwon FC in the first leg of the 2021 K League Promotion/Relegation Playoff Final. The Purples have spent six seasons outside the top flight and so are looking to make a long-awaited return. Gangwon FC, meanwhile, will be determined to avoid being relegated via the playoffs for the second time in their history.


The first leg is played at the home of the K League 2 team and the second at the home of the K League 1 team. If the score is level after both legs, the away goals rule will apply. If no away goals are scored then extra time will be played at the end of the second leg. However, away goals don't count after extra time. If the score is level after extra time, a penalty shootout will determine the winners. The winners will play in K League 1 next season while the losers will play in K League 2.

The same substitute rules used in K League 2 will apply. Teams will be able to make three changes if there is one U22 player in the starting XI and one on the bench. Only two substitutions can be made if there is only one U22 player in the matchday squad. An additional substitute will be permitted in extra time.

Recent Form

Daejeon Hana Citizen booked their place in the final thanks to a 3-1 win over FC Anyang. Daejeon had to come from behind with captain Park Jin-seop equalising after Jonathan Moya had given Anyang the lead. A Bruno Baio clinched the 3-1 win to make it three wins in five with one loss.

Gangwon FC, meanwhile, have played just two matches under the stewardship of new manager Choi Yong-soo. The first ended 0-0 away to Choi's former employers, FC Seoul. The second was last Saturday's 2-1 win over Seongnam FC, the club's first victory in seven matches. A Kim Dae-won brace was the difference for the Bears. 

Team News

Despite being on-loan from Gangwon FC, Daejeon's Japanese forward Masatoshi Ishida will be allowed to play for the Purples. It will be the 26-year-old's second playoff final in as many seasons having helped Suwon FC to promotion in the 2020 playoff final. 

For Gangwon, Han Kook-young is a doubt through injury having missed the win over Seongnam last time out. Manager Choi Yong-soo will also be sweating over the fitness of Ko Mu-yeol who has missed Gangwon's last five matches with an ankle injury. Suspensions do not carry over from the league meaning that Seo Min-woo, who picked up a fifth booking of the campaign on the final day, will be available. Hwang Mun-ki and former Daejeon defender Rim Chang-woo are both on four bookings but won't be subject to suspensions for the second leg if they are cautioned in the first. However, Kim Ji-hoon should be available having returned from military service with Gimcheon Sangmu.

Head-to-Head & Playoff Record

Daejeon have not faced Gangwon FC since 2016 when the two teams were in K League 2. That season, each team picked up two wins from the four meetings, the most recent ending 2-1 to Daejeon in October 2016. Gustavo Sauerbeck and Park Dae-hoon scored in time added on to earn the win. Overall, there have been 24 meetings between the two sides with Daejeon winning 12, Gangwon eight and four draws. 

Gangwon won the Promotion/Relegation Playoffs in 2016, eventually beating Bucheon FC 1995 2-1 in the semifinal before easing past Busan IPark with a 1-0 victory in the Promotion Final. Gangwon then faced Seongnam over two legs, drawing the first 0-0 before going up via the away goals rule with a 1-1 draw at Tancheon in the second leg. The Bears came down via the playoffs in 2013, the very first K League promotion/relegation playoff.

This is Daejeon Hana Citizen's first-ever Promotion/Playoff Final. The Purples made it to the Promotion Final in 2018 but lost to Busan IPark and reached the semifinals last year but a 1-1 draw away to Gyeongnam ended the Purples' promotion hopes. 

Playoff first legs which have either been won by the K League 2 team or ended in a draw have gone on to see the K League 2 team win. In 2013, 2014 and 2015 the K League 2 teams won leg one while in 2016 and 2019 the score was level but the second division sides went on to win the playoffs. Only on two occasions has the K League 1 team won the first leg - Sangju Sangmu in 2017 and FC Seoul in 2018. Therefore, making the most of playing at home in the first leg could be the difference in securing promotion. 

Who to Watch

Daejeon's joker, Bruno Baio

Bruno Baio will almost certainly have a role to play, whether that be from the start or off the bench. Daejeon have the Brazilian to thank for helping turn Anyang game on its head with his two goals. Daejeon's number nine showed neat footwork for both goals but actually ranks fourth in K League 2 for headed shots on goal. He also ranks highly for shots per 90 minutes, sitting fifth in this regard at 3.25 on average. Baio was asked about his role as an impact sub in a recent interview:

"Of course, I want to be in the lineup every player wants to, but I have to understand my spot on the team. And I have to understand what each game asks for, how the game dynamic is and the different characteristics of the opponents. With this context, the final decision is up to the head coach, and I have to be prepared to come in and help the team when I'm called. I always try to pay attention to the game and try to look for where there is space to play. I also pay attention to what defenders are doing and how I can take advantage of the space that they leave to play my football."

Read the full interview: here

Kim Dae-won

With a final day brace against Seongnam, Kim Dae-won overtook Ko Mu-yeol to become Gangwon's top scorer this season with seven. He is also the Bears' leading assist maker with four. His goals have been worth an additional five points for his team this term while his assists have been the difference in four extra points, the difference between finishing 11th or bottom of the table and suffering automatic relegation. Choi Yong-soo will be hoping that the 24-year-old has his shooting boots packed ahead of the trip to Daejeon this Wednesday.

Where to Watch

Daejeon Hana Citizen versus Gangwon FC kicks off at 7:00 PM KST on Wednesday 8th December 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.

Paul Neat
Managing Editor