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Preview: Daejeon Hana Citizen vs Pohang Steelers - Daejeon's sternest test yet

Daejeon Hana Citizen remain unbeaten upon their return to K League 1 with two matches played but Saturday brings their sternest test yet - Pohang Steelers who have begun the new season with two wins from two. The two meet at 14:00 KST on Saturday 11th March in Round 3 of the Hana 1Q K League 1.


Recent Form

Daejeon Hana Citizen and Pohang Steelers are both unbeaten so far this season, Daejeon with four points from six available and Pohang with six. Last time out, Daejeon came back from behind twice to earn a 3-3 draw away to Incheon United while the Steelers were able to take all three points in a 2-1 victory away to Suwon FC - Goh Young-jun and Jeong Jae-hee had Pohang two goals to the good inside 33 minutes. Stretching back to last season, Daejeon Hana Citizen are now unbeaten in 13 including their K League 2 run-in and the playoffs while Pohang are unbeaten in five.

[READ: Points shared as Incheon and Daejeon play out six-goal thriller]


Saturday's clash is the first meeting between Daejeon and Pohang since September 2015. The head-to-head record is stacked heavily in Pohang's favour with 27 Pohang wins, 17 draws, and just eight wins for Daejeon from 52 previous K League encounters. In terms of goals, Pohang have 76 to Daejeon's 39. 

Kim Seung-dae (L) and Adriano (R) in Pohang's last visit to Daejeon, April 2015

Daejeon's last win over the Steelers dates back to Round 9 of the 2010 season when Citizen ran out 1-0 winners at the Steelyard thanks to a 79th-minute goal from Ko Chang-hyeon. However, Daejeon's last home win over their North Gyeongsang Province counterparts goes back even further - to August 2007 when the Purples earned a 3-0 victory.

Team News

Daejeon Hana Citizen will definitely be without captain Ju Se-jong who suffered a fractured eye socket in the 3-3 draw with Incheon United. Ju underwent surgery on Tuesday and is expected to be out until around May. Ju will be a big blow for Daejeon as the former FC Seoul midfielder has made the most passes for the team this season (130).

Brazilian forward Leandro is a doubt too with a hamstring problem. Manager Lee Min-sung said post Incheon that Leandro could be ready for a return and had earlier commented on how quickly the player can recover from injury but his inclusion in the matchday squad for Pohang is in doubt.

Masatoshi Ishida is also a doubt but what is ailing the Japanese is not clear. Masa has not featured this season and his last involvement for Daejeon was the first leg of the 2022 playoff final, recording an assist for Ju Se-jong's match-winner.

For Pohang Steelers, centre back Alex Grant remains a doubt too having missed the first two matches of the campaign. Zeca, who picked up a knock against Suwon FC last time out, should be okay according to Kim Gi-dong. Kim said that the injury might have looked more serious than it was and that the Brazilian should be okay.

What to Watch

Lee Jin-hyun creating for Daejeon

Daejeon Hana Citizen attacking midfielder Lee Jin-hyun, once of Pohang Steelers, has two assists already this season. His first came against Gangwon in the 2-0 opening round win, sliding the ball through to Leandro on the counter, his second a free-kick from the left for Tiago to convert from close range. Lee is joint fifth in K League 1 so far for key passes with four and is second for what Wyscout classes as 'smart passes' with four. 

Lee very nearly left Daejeon in the winter having headed to Poland for a trial with Legia Warsaw after his contract at Purple Arena expired. However, the Pohang native signed a new deal with Daejeon and is showing his K League 1 quality. In the 2-0 win over Gangwon in Round 1, Lee started at left central midfield for the first half before switching to left wing until his game was brought to an end on the 65th minute. Against Incheon he was deployed on the left-hand side of a midfield three for the first 58 minutes, then as a left-sided central midfielder in a four thereafter.

[READ: 2023 Hana 1Q K League 1 Round 3 Preview]

Goh Young-jun in the no. 10 role for Pohang

Goh Young-jun, a busy and energetic number 10, is already off the mark this season having scored the opener in the 2-1 win over Suwon FC last time out. Goh, who is in his last year as a U22 player, has had the most touches in the box out of any Pohang player with seven (joint fifth overall) and is second among Pohang players for total shots with five. Goh's 'smart pass' accuracy is the fourth-best is the joint-best division so far with 66.67%. Goh is usually deployed as the central attacking midfielder in a three behind the main striker. 

[READ: Incheon draw was "good result" - Daejeon's Anton Kryvotsyuk]

Where to Watch

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