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Ulsan shaking off early season slump in S. Korean pro football league

All Headlines 10:53 April 16, 2018

SEOUL, April 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea pro football club Ulsan Hyundai are shaking off their early season slump in the top-flight K League 1 as they remain undefeated this month.

Ulsan beat FC Seoul 1-0 in their K League 1 match Saturday and extended their winning streak to three matches. With the latest result, Ulsan moved up to seventh place in the league standings with three wins and four losses.

Including the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League, Ulsan are on a four-game winning streak. Ulsan have already secured their round of 16 berth at the AFC Champions League (ACL).

Ulsan had a miserable K League 1 start last month. The reigning Korea Football Association (KFA) Cup winners were considered one of the top contenders for this season's league title, but they fell to the bottom with four straight losses. At the ACL, Ulsan had one draw and one loss in March.

Ulsan, however, made a dramatic turnaround this month. Led by head coach Kim Do-hoon, the club first started with a 6-2 win over Melbourne Victory at the ACL on April 4. Ulsan's winning momentum then moved on to the K League 1, as they went on to beat Gangwon FC 3-1 and defeat Daegu FC 2-0.

In this file photo taken April 4, 2018, Ulsan Hyundai FC players celebrate after they scored a goal against Melbourne Victory in their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League Group F match at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan. (Yonhap)

Local pundits said Kim's tactical change is producing positive results. In April, Kim started to use center back Richard Windbichler as a defensive midfielder and partnered the Austrian with Park Joo-ho, switching his side's formation to 4-2-3-1.

This change apparently boosted Ulsan's midfield, which allowed the club to create better scoring chances.

Ulsan's offense has seen a big improvement lately. Last month, Ulsan scored only one goal in four K League 1 matches, but in their recent three matches, they've netted six goals.

Brazilian striker Gleidionor Figueiredo Pinto Junior, commonly known as Junior, is leading the way for Ulsan. The 31-year-old has four goals in six matches, and he is currently on a four-game scoring streak. Including his ACL record, he has six goals in the last five matches.

Junior, who joined Ulsan from Daegu FC this season, is supported by Ulsan's Croatian attacker Mislav Orsic, who has two goals and one assist.

Ulsan will try to keep the winning momentum going in April, but they still have a long way to go. Ulsan are scheduled to meet Kawasaki Frontale in their last ACL group stage match Wednesday and face Gyeongnam FC for their K League 1 action Sunday. They'll then encounter Incheon United on April 25 and play against Jeonnam Dragons three days later.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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