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Preview: Daejeon Hana Citizen vs Ulsan Hyundai - Contenders or Pretenders?

Looking to bounce back from the loss to Suwon FC, Daejeon Hana Citizen this Sunday host champions and league leaders Ulsan Hyundai as the 2023 Hana 1Q K League 1 campaign reaches Round 7. How the Purples respond to last week will show whether they are contenders for AFC Champions League qualification or a team that's simply got off to a good start.

Overview & Recent Form

Are Daejeon the real deal, can they upset the apple cart and get in and amongst the big boys, or was their start to the season just flash in the pan? Daejeon are at a fork in the road now with how they respond to last week's loss and, more pertinently, the collapse. The Purples were unbeaten heading into Round 6 last weekend away to Suwon FC and their near unblemished start to the campaign looked set to continue when taking 2-0 and 3-1 leads at Castle Park. But a second-half capitulation which saw Suwon score five and win the game 5-3 brought Daejeon back down to earth. The Purples have played since, though, albeit with a much-rotated lineup against K4 side Goeje Citizen in the third round of the FA Cup, winning 4-1.

Ulsan Hyundai, on the other hand, make their first trip to Daejeon World Cup Stadium in eight years on the back of six straight wins. Never before have the Horangi started a season in such a rampant manner. Hong Myung-bo's men have overcome some difficult tests, too, in Jeonbuk at home and Seoul away but Daejeon will prove to be just as tough. Sunday's game is a contest between the division's top scorers with Daejeon and Ulsan 14 and 13 respectively, the difference being that the Horangi have conceded just four while Daejeon have shipped 11.

Match Information

Venue: Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Date: Sun. 16th April 2023, 16:30 KST
Competition: 2023 Hana 1Q K League 1
Form: Daejeon WDDWWL Ulsan WWWWWW

Team News

Daejeon skipper Ju Se-jong is back from injury having made his return in the FA Cup on Wednesday. Ju started and played the first 45 minutes before being replaced by Kim Gyeong-hwan. Defender Anton Kryvotsyuk is suspended and will begin his two-game ban with the visit of Ulsan. Kim Hyeon-woo or Byun Jun-soo are likely to replace him.

For Ulsan, a decision will reportedly be made on Jung Seung-hyun. The centre back came off in the 77th minute of Ulsan's win over Suwon Bluewings last time out with a suspected knock.


If Daejeon fans are looking for a lucky omen then they may be about to find one knowing that the last time their team faced a table-topping Ulsan at home they were able to pick up a point. On 11th April 2015, in Round 5 of what was Daejeon's last season in the top flight, the two teams played out a 1-1 draw with Seo Myeong-won scoring a 66th-minute equaliser to cancel out Yang Dong-hyen's just before the interval. It was actually Daejeon's first point of the season having lost their first four matches.

The two teams met four times that season, once in the FA Cup and three times in the league. Ulsan won two, including the most recent - a 2-1 victory at the Munsu that November - and a 4-1 drubbing at home four months before. Overall, from 50 previous meetings, Ulsan have 28 wins to Daejeon's nine and 13 draws. Daejeon's last win over Ulsan dates back to November 2011, a 1-0 win at Purple Arena courtest of a 15-the minute goal from Wagner.

Who to Watch

Tiago Orobó, Daejeon Hana Citizen

Tiago is one of three players in K League 1 who sit on four goals so far this term. Although still early days, it appears as though the step up to the top tier has been taken in the Brazilian's stride. His decision-making in front of goal has been excellent and his presence as someone who can the line has been a very important part of Daejeon's overall approach to matches. The former Gyeongnam man leads K League 1 for shots made with 19 and is joint top for shots on target with eight. As something of a traditional number nine he has also won his fair share of aerial duels, the fifth-most in the division in fact. In Kim Young-gwon and potentially Jung Seung-hyun, Tiago will be coming up against two of the best defenders in the division and so how he acquits himself on Sunday will be interesting to see. 

Gustav Ludwigson, Ulsan Hyundai

Swedish attacking midfielder Gustav Ludwigson is also on four goals for the season. And much like Tiago, two came last time out. The 29-year-old struck in the 32nd and 34th minutes of last weekend's 2-1 win over Suwon Bluewings. The first saw him arrive in the box, take a touch before guiding the ball into the far corner left-footed. While Suwon will have been wondering how Ludwigson was unmarked, the finish itself was sublime. The second came even closer to goal but at a much tighter angle and while Suwon will have again been wondering how they hadn't cleared their lines, the composure and cool finish were well worthy of the plaudits. Ludwigson is just behind Tiago for shots on target with seven while nine of his total nine shots have come from inside the box. Daejeon will need to be alert to his movement and runs from midfield.


What to Watch

After last week's second-half dismantlement, will fans see a more conservative Daejeon this weekend? Lee Min-sung will be going up against his 2002 World Cup teammate Hong Myung-bo for the first time as a manager and, given Ulsan's form and the fact that they're the champions, it would be understandable if he opted for a more reigned-in approach to Sunday's game. Daejeon have looked lethal on the counterattack but they've also left themselves exposed on the counter, too, as was evident against Suwon last week. The task at hand for Lee, then, will be to find a way to keep the team's attacking prowess while also knowing how to limit the space in behind. The return of Ju Se-jong is crucial and although the former Busan and FC Seoul midfielder won't be 100% match-fit, his presence will give the rest of the players a big lift.

Where to Watch

Fans overseas can follow Sunday's game LIVE, for FREE, and in HD on

Those in South Korea can watch on Coupang Play or SkySports.

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