K League Classic 2015 Preview:
As the K-League is about to kick off for another season, Kleaguefootball.com brings you a quick preview of this year's teams. Part One includes Busan, Daejeon, Gwangju, Incheon, Jeju, and Jeonbuk. The other six teams will be covered in Part Two.
Busan I Park
Busan’s mini revival at the end of last season meant that they ended up in 8th place in the K-league. Their star player last season was undoubtedly Lim Sang Hyub who scored eleven goals and made the K-League’s best XI, unfortunately for Busan fans, they will have to travel up to Sangju if they want to see him this season as he is off on military service. They also had contract complications with Fagner, their other main goal threat. Goals may be hard to come by this season, especially as Fagner’s replacement, Bergson, who was loaned in from Brazilian club Gremio, has only scored four senior goals in his entire career. It may be a long season for Busan supporters. Busan start their Campaign at home to newly promoted Daejeon.
Daejeon got promoted from the K-League challenge at the first time of asking after winning the second tier convincingly. Their fans will be pleased that they have kept hold of striker Adriano for the coming campaign. The Brazilian scored a whopping 27 goals in 32 appearances last year and was voted the K-League Challenge’s player of the season. However, he has never scored consistently at a higher level and will need to step up if Daejeon are to finish outside the relegation places. Daejeon haven’t massively strengthened with only a few new signings coming in, including goalkeeper Kim Da Sol from Pohang. They have also lost Asian games star Rim Chang Woo who returns to Ulsan.
Gwangju’s 2014 season looked as if it would be one worth forgetting when they were stuck at 8th in Korea’s second tier after twenty matches. However, a strong finish allowed them to squeeze into the final play-off spot, and an improbable run of results led them to be promoted after beating Gangwon, Ansan, and Gyeongnam in the playoffs. Their strong defense played a large part in last season’s success, and they have strengthened their defense in the off-season, making key defender Jeong Jun-Yeon’s loan from Jeonnam permanent. Expect some low-scoring games whenever Gwangju are playing this season. Gwangju travel to Incheon United for their opening fixture.
Incheon looked like they were going down for a large part of last season, before their form picked up and they narrowly escaped the drop. They have tried to rectify that by making quite a few signings this winter. Former Daejeon and Jeonbuk striker Kevin Oris makes a return to the K-League after a short, unsuccessful stint in China. Incheon will be hoping that he can return to the form he showed for Jeonbuk two seasons ago when he netted 14 goals. They have also brought in Croatian defender Matej Jonjic from Hadjuk Split. Jonjic managed seven goals last season to help loan side Osijek avoid relegation. Incheon have also brought in Kim Won Shik from Seoul, with attacking midfielder Lee Seok Hyun moving in the other direction.
Last season was relatively successful for Jeju United as the club finished fifth in the league. In the close season they lost their top scorer Hugo Droguett, who decided to return to Chile to join O’Higgins. Whether new signing Fernando Karanga, who has a less than admirable scoring record for Brazilian second tier also-rans Boa Esporte, can replace Droguett is up for debate. Jeju are away at Jeonnam Dragons for their opening fixture.
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Jeonbuk cruised to the K-League title last season, spending most of the season in pole position. They have strengthened in the summer and are predicted by most fans to finish this season with another championship medal to add to manager Choi Gang Hee’s growing collection. In a poll of K-league managers and players. Lee dong-gook is expected to continue his goal-scoring exploits; he was voted joint most likely to be the top scorer in the K-League this upcoming season (along with Kim Shin-Wook). However, the Jeonbuk captain is now 35, and Choi Gang Hee has wisely invested in other attacking players to help carry the goalscoring burden. Former Jeonbuk player Eninho has rejoined the club after a year in China where he scored a respectable 11 goals in 38 games for Changchun Yatai. Joining him is fellow Brazilian Edu, who was previously one of the K-league’s biggest stars before moving to Schalke in the Bundesliga. He didn’t set the Bundesliga alight although he did score twice at the San Siro as Schalke beat Inter Milan in the Champions League quarter-finals. In the last few years he has been back in Asia, scoring 11 in 30 last season for FC Tokyo. Jeonbuk have strengthened in midfield, bringing in Korean international Lee Ho from Ulsan. Jeonbuk have lost a few players with Kaio moving to Suwon, Kwon Kyung Won moving to UAE champions Al Ahli as well as a few other players leaving. The biggest loss however may be Lee Seung Gi who moves to Sangju for military service.