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Preview: Busan IPark vs Ansan Mugunghwa

Better late than never right? With less two hours until the 2016 K League Challenge season kicks off, let's take a quick look at Busan's match against Ansan. We'll look at Busan, and chat with Ansan contributor Kyle Gobler.

Photo courtesy of BusanIPark.com

Busan IPark

It's been an offseason of mixed emotions for Busan fans. The initial anger and disappointment at being relegated last season has largely dissipated and been replaced by positive expectations for this season. A lot of 'deadweight' (plus some decent players) were offloaded and young and local players were brought in.

The goal for this season is clear: Promotion back to the K League Classic. Anything other than that will be considered a failure. Will it happen? Busan will certainly have a good chance. They brought in some solid, proven K League Challenge players along with youngsters who have some promise. Let's take a quick look position-by-position, in case you missed it.

Goalkeeper

Lee Bum-young left for newly promoted J1 side Avispa Fukuoka, leaving Lee Chang-geun the clear number 1. This will be a big year for Lee Chang-geun who has seen his status as starting keeper and captain for the Korea U-23 team lost to Seongnam's Kim Dong-joon and Consadole Sapporo's Gu Sung??. Last season Lee Chang-geun was quite inconsistent, but perhaps the knowledge that he's expected to be the starter and a team leader will give him a boost.

Defenders

The defense underwent a thorough overhaul. Long gone are the days of the stingy Ahn Ik-soo defenses that saw the team place in the top half of the K League Classic table. Lee Won-young has returned to provide some leadership. A Brazilian defender by the name of Samuel has also come in. A number of unknown fullbacks were also recruited during open tryouts to compete with Gu Hyun-joon, Yoo Ji-hoon, and Park Joon-gang.

Midfield

Midfield should see some familiar faces from last season. Joo Se-jong left for Seoul, but Lee Gyu-seong and Kim Jin-kyu remain. Japanese midfielder Daigo arrived from Omiya Ardija, and U23 player Lee Yeong-jae arrived on loan from Ulsan. A number of other midfielders arrived during the offseason, and it will be interesting to see how Choi Young-joon fits them all in.

Forwards

The misfiring Brazilians + Weslley all left, as did Lee Jeong-hyeop (loaned to Ulsan). That means all new faces for Busan. Milo Stojanovic arrived from Gyeongnam, as did Anyang's Ko Kyeong-min. Gangwon's Choi Seung-in (who knocked Busan out of the KFA Cup last season) also returns to his hometown club.



Honestly, I'm not too sure who will start for Choi Young-joon against Ansan. He's experimented a lot during the offseason matches, and does not seem to really have a set XI yet. Perhaps we'll see something similar to the above, but perhaps it'll be completely different.

Match Expectation

I think Busan should get a win today. Ansan has some decent players, but I think Busan did well during the offseason, and should be able to pull it off at home. I won't make a score prediction because they're always wrong.

Writer's Chat with Kyle Gobler (Ansan Correspondant)

1. Being the police team, Ansan (like Sangju) constantly has to deal with high turnover of players. How does the recent incoming group look to be?
It is harder to compete, that is for sure. Every win means a little bit more for the team. Ansan is essentially a semi-pro team in a pro league, it also allows for a few guys a chance to play that one season of high level football they never would have had the chance at if it were not for the police. With that said, fans and players get a unique and personal experience in Ansan that most clubs cannot relate to. As for the constant turnover, it is hard. A player gets into really good form and leaves the team with a new hole to fill at odd times. Chemistry suffers when players are in and out at several points throughout the season. Last year within a few weeks the team lost three starting players, two in mid-field and our top scorer at forward, that is hard to overcome. In the end its all part of the fun of supporting the police team.

2. Last season, Ansan finished 10th, just 1 point above bottom-side Chungju, does this season look to be any better?
I am hopeful that Ansan will be an improved team this season. Last year early we were leaking goals and then Lee Jin-Hyung took over and became one of the best keepers in the league and kept us in so many games. He'll be back this season. Unfortunately we had so many issues putting the ball in the opposition's net. A completely new batch of forwards will hopefully address that issue. I'd put us mid-table at the moment but if some of the new players gel we could come in a bit higher. The incoming forwards will have the entire season together and can hopefully build something dangerous.

3. Slightly random, but why did the club change their name to 'Mugunghwa'?
Our guess (Ansan Foreign Supporters Group) was that they wanted a team name that the city would get behind. Picking the national flower wasn't the worst idea. There were rumors in the city of an Ansan Citizen team being brought into the league in the off-season and the last thing the police need is for the team to move again. So Mugunghwa it is. Plus, I'm looking forward to figuring out how to squeeze that into a song.

4. Busan sent two attackers, Han Ji-ho and Kim Dong-seob, to Ansan for the service this year. Do you think either will feature prominently this season?
Han Ji-Ho and Kim Dong-Seob and their top division experience are welcome additions to the team as we ended the 2015 season with very little firepower up top. I expect Kim Dong-Seob to make an impact at some point, he wasn't so flashy at Busan but has proven himself scoring 14 goals with a strong Seongnam side in 2013 as well as being consistent in his time at Gwangju. He is one of the few players that will pass through with caps for the national team (3 in 2013). I'm less optimistic about Han Ji-Ho as we need a consistent goal scorer. They will be in competition with the incoming Gong Min-Hyun from three solid years with Bucheon and Former Jeju United man Jeong Da-Hooeon, who rarely found the net there. Han Hong-Gyu is Ansan's only returning forward with a single goal in 12 appearances last season.

5. Score prediction and thoughts for this one?
Realistically starting off away to a freshly relegated Busan team I can't favor the Police in this one. Busan has more talent and a better preseason workout for sure. 2-1 Busan. Just hoping we can put one in the net and build some confidence coming home to meet Goyang Zaicro the following week.

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