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2016 K-League Challenge: Ones To Watch (Part 4 - Forwards)


In the last of the series I take a look at the frontmen that will be terrorising Challenge defences in the coming weeks. Last season the league had a wealth of high-scoring forwards and plenty of goals to go around and, though a few of these have moved to pastures new, there should still be plenty of firepower across the league to make for some entertaining games.

Looking back, the official team listed Jonathan and Joo Min-kyu up front (alongside Ko Kyung-min who they snuck into midfield) while my own XI  managed to wedge in both of the above and Suwon's Japa. Of course Japa has moved on and so has Jonathan so I will start with the top remaining league scorer of 2015 in my list of ones to watch in 2016.

Joo Min-kyu (Seoul E-Land)

I seem to spend at least half my time on this site waxing lyrical about just how good Joo-mes was last season so I'm not going to do it again.

Although he's played in the K-League for a few seasons last term was his first one as a striker and it will be interesting to see if he can do the same again or whether now that defences are aware of him he'll have more of a difficult second season with E-Land.

If he can bag another 20 goals this year then the sky is surely the limit for Joo and he might want to invest in some Chinese language lessons (or at least an A-Z of Jeonju)

Tarabai (Seoul E-Land)

The good news for E-Land is that should Joo not hit the heights of last season they have an able deputy in the shape of Brazilian striker Tarabai. He arrived on loan last season as Malta's top scorer but it took him a while to adapt to his new surroundings and the first part of the season saw him used fairly sparingly.

The little striker came into his own in the second half of the season and his goals kept E-Land in the play-off hunt during a tough spell of form. After a bit of wrangling with his Maltese club E-Land have managed to get him on loan for another year and the expectations are that he should be able to hit the ground running in his second season. Hopefully, if nothing else, we'll see fewer Instagram pictures of him in his pants this time around.

Jonatas Belluso (Seoul E-Land)


And just to complete the set E-Land have also made a very shrewd acquisition in the shape of Jonatas Belluso who was probably Gangwon's key man during the 2015 season. Even more shrewd was managing to swing him a Syrian passport so that he fills the Asian player slot for the club.

15 goals in 31 matches was a fantastic return for a striker in a team that finished at the wrong end of the table and I'm really excited to see him perform with some better players around him. I have a feeling he could be a bit special.


Ko Kyung-min (Busan I'Park)


Ko is a proven Challenge level goalscorer during his time with Anyang and the Police side so it would be a bit of a surprise if he didn't feature again in the high-scorer charts this year playing at title favourites Busan.

Whether he will be able to step into the boots vacated by national team striker Lee Jung-hyup remains to be seen and a lot will be expected of him in a heavily reworked Busan side who have been robbed of most of their big names following relegation. As someone who has been there, seen it and done it at this level Ko might be exactly what they need.



Milos Stojanovic (Busan I'Park)


At 31, Milos is now entering the veteran stage of his career but has been an impressive performer for most of his K-League career. He's an old fashioned centre-forward in many ways and has probably been Gyeongnam's standout player over the last two seasons. Last year probably wasn't the best for the big Serb as a mixture of odd tactics which saw him pretty isolated up front and then an issue with contractual bonus payments meant he was left out of the team for the latter part of the season.

It wasn't a great surprise then that he decided not to stick around for another season down in Gyeongnam and for 2016 he's made the short hop from Changwon across to Busan to lead the line for them.                                                       His partnership with Ko Kyung-min should be one to watch.


Kim Dong-chan (Daejeon Citizen)


There haven't been many eyebrow-raising transfers for Daejeon recently (if you don't count letting Adriano go to FC Seoul for buttons) but Kim Dong-chan's at least managed to get some to look twice. Apparently Daejeon managed to pip Suwon Bluewings to his signing which you can take either as evidence of ambition at Daejeon or, perhaps more likely, the fairly dire state of things at the Big Bird this season now that Samsung have decided to cut back severely on their funding for the club.

Either way Daejeon have come out the winners and managed to bag themselves a fairly experienced K-League Classic striker for the price of a few cartons of Maeil milk which seems like not a bad bit                                                         of business at all.

Cristian Danalache (Gyeongnam)


Of all the signings in the K-League Challenge this season Danalache is maybe the one I'm most interested to get a look at. The 6'3" Romanian comes with a pretty impressive goal scoring record at a string of clubs in Romania, the Middle East and China. Last season he managed almost a goal a game for Xinjiang in China's League One and managed 1 in 2 during a previous spell with Jiangsu before they decided to start splashing the silly money on Brazilians from Europe. He even picked up the Chinese Golden Boot in season 2012.

At 33 his legs might be getting on a bit but he surely still has the same eye for goal so this could be a very important signing for Gyeongnam. He might just make the difference between another year pottering about at the foot of the table and a serious push for at least a play-off place.

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