After handing Ulsan Hyundai their first and only loss of the season in their first meeting this season, Daejeon Hana Citizen will be looking to bounce back against Ulsan.

Daejeon will host Ulsan in the 15th round of the Hana OneQ K League 1 2023 at Munsoo World Cup Stadium in Ulsan on 28 November at 7pm. Currently, Daejeon is in fifth place in the league with 21 points after 14 games with six wins, three draws and five losses.

Daejeon needs to turn things around. Daejeon recently suffered their first back-to-back losses of the season against Pohang Steelers (2-3 L) and Daegu FC (0-1 L). Daejeon burst onto the promotion scene at the start of the season, going unbeaten in five matches (three wins and two draws). Since then, the team has shown its mettle by taking down the likes of Ulsan Hyundai, FC Seoul, and Jeonbuk Hyundai. Although they have suffered their first back-to-back losses of the season in their last two matches, the performances have not been bad. In particular, Daejeon travelled to Pohang on the 13th and lost 2-3. However, once Pohang scored, Daejeon’s players showed tenacity and continued to fight back. In the previous game, an FA Cup match against Jeju United, the team showed the same tenacity to come back from 2:0 down to 3:3, but lost on an own goal. They will need to maintain their focus until the end based on their determination to not give up.

Our opponents, Ulsan, are leading the K League 1 table. They have only lost one game in 14 matches. However, it was Daejeon who handed them that one defeat. Daejeon faced Ulsan in the seventh round of the K League 1 on the 16th of last month, and they took안전놀이터 the lead in the ninth minute with a fantastic left-footed curler from Lee Jin-hyun. Ulsan fought back to equalise, but a goal from Lee Hyun-sik in the final minute of the first half put the game back on track. In the first minute of first-half stoppage time, Lee Hyun-sik scored a second goal after Lee Jin-hyun’s shot rebounded off the defence. The goal proved to be the game-winner. Ulsan had been on a six-game winning streak since the start of the season, but were stopped by Daejeon. Daejeon has rebounded and is determined to show Ulsan what they are made of.

There’s a lot to be gained by catching Ulsan. Daejeon is still only three points behind the second-place group. If a top team loses this round and Daejeon wins, they can move up the standings. In the K League, the rankings are based on goal difference if the teams have the same number of points. Daejeon currently has 22 points from 14 games, which is the third-highest total behind Ulsan and Seoul. As of the end of round 14, Daejeon is also ahead of third-placed Jeju (21 points) and fourth-placed Pohang (19 points) on goal difference, so they can move up to third depending on the outcome of this match. At the same time, it’s a great opportunity for Daejeon to put the chase to rest for teams further down the table, such as Daegu and Jeonbuk.

Daejeon used a rotation in their FA Cup fourth-round match on the 24th to rest their main players. It was a chance for them to rest their main players and to see the presence of players who hadn’t played before. We need to capitalise on that.

The key players are Lee Jin-hyun and Lee Hyun-sik, who had good performances in the last match against Ulsan. Both have the ability to harass the Ulsan defence with their work rate in the midfield, pave the way for the Daejeon attack with their wide vision and accurate kicking, and also have the sharpness to turn the tide of the game in Daejeon’s favour.

With Lee Jin-hyun and Lee Hyun-sik in attacking roles, there is a player who can do the dirty work at the back. That’s Lim Duk-geun. Lim joined Daejeon in 2021 and started to get more playing time last season. His versatility as a defensive midfielder, centre-back and flanker last season saw him play 36 games, including the promotion play-offs, and help Daejeon win promotion. This season, he has made 11 appearances since moving up to the K League One stage. With ‘Captain’ Joo Sae-jong unavailable through suspension, Lim’s presence in the centre of midfield will be enough to keep Ulsan’s attack at bay.

“The current standings and points show how strong Ulsan are this season,” said Lee Min-sung. However, we have shown good performances against strong teams in the past, so I believe that if we play our game with confidence, we can get a good result,” said Lee Min-sung, who will be travelling to Ulsan.

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