K. League Preview: Jeonbuk out to preserve lead

17 October 2014 07:06

A win for table-topping Jeonbuk Motors against Incheon United on Saturday would be the ideal scenario ahead of the K. League split.

Jeonbuk are on an eight-game unbeaten run after edging Ulsan 1-0 last week.

Choi Kang-hee’s side are five points clear of nearest rivals Suwon Bluewings with two matches remaining in the regular season before the 12-team league is split into the top six and bottom six.

The split presents Jeonbuk with an additional five games, so the dual Korean champions understand victory over Incheon – out of contention for the top six – at Sungui Arena Park may prove crucial in their quest for the title.

And Jeonbuk are set to be bolstered by the return of leading striker Lee Dong-gook, as well as Han Kyo-won, Kim Kee-hee and Alex Wilkinson.

Lee, Han and Kim were all away on national team duty with South Korea during the international break – missing last week’s victory Ulsan.

Experienced defender Wilkinson will also be back in the mix after representing Australia against the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Fellow title hopefuls Suwon will be keeping a close eye on proceedings in Incheon.

Defeat for Jeonbuk would open the door for Suwon, who could potentially end the weekend just two points adrift if they beat ninth-placed Seongnam on Sunday.

Suwon are 10 games unbeaten, having not lost since August, while Seongnam will compete in the bottom section of the split group.

Jeju United, Seoul and Chunnam Dragons are still vying for a place in the top six.

Only three points separate Jeju (47), Seoul (46) and Chunnam (44), with Ulsan (41) three points further back in seventh spot.

Fourth-placed Jeju are at home to Pohang Steelers, who sit third and have already secured their position in the six.

AFC Asian Champions League semi-finalists Seoul and Chunnam will go head-to-head in a blockbuster on Saturday.

Ulsan, who have lost three games in a row, host relegation candidates Sangju Sangmu on Sunday.

Meanwhile, cellar-dwelling Gyeongnam travel to fellow strugglers Busan I’Park on the same day.