After handing Ulsan Hyundai their first and only loss of the season in their first meeting this season, Daejeon Hana Citizen will look 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 at 7 p.m. on Nov. 28. Currently, Daejeon is in fifth place in the league (21 points) with six wins, three draws, and five losses in 14 games.

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 earlier this season, going unbeaten in their first five games (3 wins, 2 draws). Since then, the team has shown its mettle by taking down the likes of Ulsan Hyundai, FC Seoul, and Jeonbuk Hyundai. Although the team has suffered its first back-to-back losses of the season in its last two matches, the performances have not been bad. In particular, Daejeon traveled 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 opponent, Ulsan, is leading the K League 1. They have only lost one game in 14 matches. However, it was Daejeon who handed them that one loss. Daejeon faced Ulsan in the seventh round of the K League 1 on March 16, and took the lead in the ninth minute with a fantastic left-footed curler from Lee Jin-hyun. Ulsan fought back to equalize, but a goal by Lee Hyun-sik in the final minute of the first half put the game out of reach. In the first minute of first-half stoppage time, Lee Hyun-sik scored a second goal after Lee Jin-hyun’s shot deflected off the defense. The goal proved to be the game-winner. Ulsan was on a six-game winning streak to start the season, but Daejeon stopped them in their tracks. 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 out of second place. If the top team loses this round and Daejeon wins, they can move up the standings. The K League uses goal difference to determine the rankings if the teams have the same number of points. Daejeon currently has 22 points in 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-place Jeju (21 points) and fourth-place Pohang (19 points) on goal difference, so it can move up to third depending on the outcome of this match. At the same time, it’s a great opportunity for Daejeon to close the gap on teams further down the table, such as Daegu and Jeonbuk.

Daejeon used a rotation in their FA 먹튀검증 Cup fourth round match on April 24 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 take advantage of that.

The key players are Lee Jin-hyun and Lee Hyun-sik, who had good performances in the last match against Ulsan. Both players have the ability to harass the Ulsan defense with their activity in the midfield, pave the way for Daejeon’s attack with their wide vision and reliable kicking, and also have the sharpness to bring the game to Daejeon’s side.

With Lee Jin-hyun and Lee Hyun-sik in the 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, center back, and flanker helped Daejeon win promotion last season, playing 36 games, including the promotion playoffs. This season, he has made 11 appearances since moving up to the K League One stage. With ‘Captain’ Joo Sae-jong unavailable due to disciplinary reasons, Lim’s presence in the midfield should be enough to keep Ulsan’s offense at bay.

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

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