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Playoff Preview: Gangwon FC vs. Gimpo FC

league 2023.12.07   I   hits 461

After Wednesday's stalemate, it’s all to play for as Gangwon FC this Saturday welcome Gimpo FC to Gangneung Stadium for the second leg of K League Promotion-Relegation Playoff 2.

Gangwon will likely be pleased with their first leg performance, where they emphasised their recent defensive solidarity, and dealt with Gimpo’s threats largely adeptly. But the Bears will need goals this weekend if they are to guarantee their K League 1 status without the need for a penalty shootout, and as such a different balance between structure and risk could be required.

On the other hand, Gimpo head into the second leg potentially 90 minutes away from making it to the first division for the first time in their short history. They too will be content with their showing last time out, something which has certainly given them a template to work from coming into the weekend.

Recent Form

Gangwon are in fine form heading into this crucial second leg, unbeaten in five games (three draws, two wins). With four consecutive cleansheets too, the Bears are showcasing their improvements, and have firm reason to be confident going into Saturday’s game. On Wednesday, Gangwon were strong at limiting their opposition but may hope to better their xG total of 0.61 as they look to get on the front foot in their quest for first-division safety.

Gimpo, meanwhile, look settled, with one win and one draw in playoff competition. In the first leg of Promotion-Relegation Playoff 2, the K League 2 side were defensively sound, completing 34 interceptions, 22 clearances, and winning 61.19% of their defensive duels. Nevertheless, Gimpo only managed a single shot on target, something they'll want to address this weekend for a greater chance at promotion.

Team News

For Gangwon, they have a largely fit and healthy squad, though Yun Il-lok did appear to be taken off as a precaution in midweek following some discomfort. That, and manager Yoon Jong-hwan could opt to bring Yu In-soo back into the starting eleven this weekend after he missed out in the first leg for Galego.

As for the away side, Gimpo will be able to choose an identical side to Wednesday should they wish to, with no fresh injury or fitness concerns.


There have been two meetings between these two sides, though none on Gangwon’s home turf. The Bears were 3-2 away victors back in May’s FA Cup tie, with Wednesday’s 0-0 the more recent clash. Whoever wins this upcoming third meeting, though, will secure a place in K League 1 for 2024.

Can Gangwon utilise home advantage?

In 2021, Gangwon survived their Promotion-Relegation playoff thanks to a 4-1 victory at home to Daejeon Hana Citizen in the second leg, one which saw the Bears successfully overturn their 1-0 first-leg deficit in dramatic fashion. And, while this time there’s no away defeat that needs reversing, it does all come down to a tie at Gangneung to see whether Gangwon will continue in K League 1. At home this year, Yoon Jong-hwan's men averaged 0.89 points per game, with a league record of three wins, eight draws, and eight losses. Conversely, Gimpo have been stronger on their travels in 2023, picking up 31 of their 60 league points when away from home, and conceding only 11 goals as an away side.

Who to Watch

Ikromjon Alibaev, Gangwon FC

In the last few weeks, Ikromjon Alibaev has become an important part of Yoon Jong-hwan’s system and earned a regular place in the starting eleven for himself. On Wednesday, the central midfielder showcased some of his box-to-box talents, making six interceptions, seven recoveries in the opposition half, eight accurate passes into the final third, and winning six of his 12 attempted duels. If Alibaev can keep his form strong in the second leg, it'll undoubtedly benefit Gangwon.

Park Cheong-hyo, Gimpo FC

Impressive in Wednesday's first leg, goalkeeper Park Cheong-hyo helped ensure Gimpo kept a clean sheet against Gangwon with four saves, two exits, and a generally confident display. Also impressive was the 33-year-old's distribution, with 17 of his 27 long passes accurate, all of his short passes reaching their intended target, and seven of his 11 passes making it to the final third. If Park Cheong-hyo produces another high-level display at the weekend, it'll certainly give his team a boost as they attempt to win a spot in K League 1.

Where to Watch

Follow the action LIVE, for FREE, and in HD on TV.KLeague.com.