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2017 Season Preview: Ansan Greeners

As excitement grows for the start of the new season, Ansan is the biggest unknown. A new club taking over where the 2016 Challenge Champions left off. The same coach takes charge and the same excited mayor shows his support. (pictured above) 
(photo by: Ansan Greeners Facebook page)

Last Season:
W 21 D 7 L 12 Pts 70 (Challenge Champions)

What Happened:
Ansan Greeners is a completely new club for 2017. The previous incarnation of Ansan soccer, The Police, has moved to Asan. They left the city with a KLeague Challenge championship in 2016. The city of Ansan and the often successful lower league club Ulsan Mipo Dolphins reformed into Ansan Greeners FC.

Notable Moves:
With the entire Police team moving to Asan leaving no one behind, Ansan took an interesting shortcut. They bought the National League champions, Ulsan Mipo Dolphins. With many "Dolphins" staying on board it gave Ansan a good base to start with. Now I'll go over a few incoming players that I believe will make in impact or be thrust into the fire.

1. Hwang Seung-Min (GK)
The 25 year old made 21 appearances for the Dolphins last season, taking the starting role early and holding on. The only other listed goalkeeper for Ansan, Cha Kang, is direct from university. Hwang will be tested early as he has to be the clear first choice goalkeeper if no one is signed before the start of the season.

2. Park Jun-Hee (Def)
Park is the only defender with K League experience so far. The rest of the team has only played in the National League and most were Dolphins teammates. After 3 seasons with limited appearances at Pohang he will be called upon to play a bigger role for Ansan than he has been used to. He will need to as he is also one of the oldest defenders in the squad.

3. Bakhodir Nasimov (FW)
The Uzbek national (18 aps, 5 gls) has given the Korean National team fits during the Asian Cup, I hope this translates into goals in the league as well. With stops in the top leagues of Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, and most recently, his home country of Uzbekistan, Nasimov has won trophies at them all. The K League Challenge will be a different game but I feel that he will adjust and make a positive impact.

I would like to see an experienced goalkeeper brought in. Someone with a sense of leadership that can set an example and mentor the younger players at the position, whether he plays or not. Think Brad Freidel at Tottenham to round out his career.
A young defense will be tested early. I wouldn't mind seeing a former Mugunghwa player signing after finishing police service.

Key Player: 
Luka Rotkovic AKA "The Montenegrin Hulk" seriously, they call him that. He has had success as a proven goalscorer in his native Montenegro at four different clubs and most recently, Belorussian giants, Dinamo Minsk. As well as stopovers in Israel and Kazakhstan. His sheer size and strength should make him difficult to contain. He has a multi-year contract that will keep him around for awhile, he has stated to the media that this was the main reason for signing with the Greeners over clubs in Europe. Only time will tell but I believe he will have a bright future with Ansan.
Rotkovic modeling the new home kit (second from left). (photo by Ansan Greeners Facebook)

Reason to Watch:
Why not get in at the ground floor? A new club that retained Ansan Mugunghwa's coach from last year, Lee Hueng-Sil plans to continue with a strong attacking style of play. The majority of the already proven players on this squad are forwards, though with very little K League experience between them. Most of all, its a citizen team that can now sign its own players and carve its own path as opposed to having to rely on the constant overturn of police servicemen.

Biggest Question:
Will the city with the largest percentage of foreigners in Korea finally latch onto a team leaning on three Waygooks for goals? Past teams have struggled to fill seats in Wa Stadium. Early success for the Greeners will go a long way in aiding that cause.

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