2017 Season Preview: Gyeongnam FC
Gyeongnam last season started the campaign with a 10 point deduction and played catch up until we couldn't catch up no more. A team that is clearly full of talented players, who play the game the right way on the floor, could this be the season we return to the K League classic after a 3 year absence? (Photo credit: K League Facebook page)
18W-6D-16L, 8th place with 50 points.
With a lot of changes going on at the club at managerial level as well as numerous players coming in on permenant deals and on season long loans etc. Last season I felt, was always going to be a kind of non event, as from the off we had to make up the 10 point deduction we were rightly given for attempting to bribe referees. To the boys credit, to get to 50 points was a remarkable achievement. Our big signing Christian Danalache who had banged in goals for fun in the Chinese league ventured over to our shores and signed with us. An instant hit with his team mates and fans alike. He bagged 19 goals for us last season and was the second highest goalscorer in the league. He was a thorn in most teams last season with his ariel threat and his eye for a goal. He has signed for Daejeon this season, he will be sorely missed. The season kind of petered out towards the end when the playoffs were out of reach. Frustrating season in all honesty, as without the point deduction we would have been in and around the playoff mix aiming to get back into the Classic.
Ivan Herceg (Center back, defensive midfielder)
Not really a move as such into Gyeongnam, just the fact that we have managed to keep hold of him for this season is great work by the club. So calm on the ball and assured under pressure. He was a rock last season in our defense and formed a superb partnership alongside Park Ji Soo. A bad knee injury, picked up away against rivals Busan I Park meant he was injured for at least 2 months of the season. So it was no surprise that this co-insided with our worst stretch of results in the season. To sign him for another season is great news for all concerned at Gyeongnam.
Cho Byung Kuk (Center back)
At this level you need a player to get stuck in and put their head in where it hurts. With Cho Byung Kuk this is what you are getting. An experienced campaigner who has played at a higher level than the Challenge for Incheon United. He brings a wealth of knowledge and nouse to our young defence. He can be a great influence in the dressing room and on the training ground. He may not be a regular starter for us this season, but his influence in and around the club should not be under estimated for our youthful squad.
Alex Bruno and Marcos De Silva (Attacking midfielder and striker)
Both have looked excellant in pre season hearing reports out of the club. We don't have a good record of signing good Brazilians in the past so I will wait before jumping on the bandwagon quite yet. But early signs are good. Marcos De Silva at 196cm looks a huge lump, up in attack. If he can hit the ground running like Danalache did for us last season and stay injury free we may have a real player on our hands here. Alex Bruno is more the diminutive type of player who tries to find pockets in and around the attacking third.
|Marcos De Silva in pre season. A beast of a player. (Photo credit: K League Facebook page)|
Gyeongnam FC when in the top division where getting numbers between 7,000 and 10,000 fans every week. Since our demise of such and our relegation into the lower division it has killed the fan base from coming back. We are lucky to get over 2,000 through the turnstiles now. Of course the main hardcore element are always there, week in, week out. Like me and my sons! It doesn't help when the local baseball team, NC Dinos in the nearby city of Masan have become quite the organisation and are doing extremely well in the KBO. Fans flock to see them in their droves. It will be interesting to see this season, if we are fighting in and around the playoff places or even going for automatic promotion, whether the missing 5,000 fans will make a magical re appearance suddenly. I'm not holding my breath. To counter the lack of fans attending games, this season, and every season since we got relegated about 3 or 4 times a season we play our games away from our main home stadium in Changwon. We play in Jinju, Yangsan, Milyang, Haman and Geoje to name a few. All towns in Gyeongnam.
For key players to stay injury free.
Admittedly this is obvious for most teams, but for a club of our size with not the biggest budget in league keeping the core of our team off the treatment table is fundemental if we want to get out of this division. Both our midfielders who came back from military service towards the end of last season Kim Do Yeop #88 and Choi Young Joon #26 are vital in alot of what we do well in the midfield. The combination of Ivan #4 and Park Ji Soo #23 at the back is key to our organisation back there. Our squad is decent but not the biggest, it'll be stretched to it's limit if we get a few injuries in key areas. We are for certain going to play the big man/little man combo up top this season with Marcos De Silva and on loan striker Sung Bong Jae #27 from Seongnam are probably going to be our starting two up top. Song Je Heon #9 to come off the bench is even smaller at only 177cm. Our coach is very attack minded, so I expect loads of goals from this trio this season.
So hard to choose just one key player from this side, so I am going to sit on the fence and pick 2 players.
Jung Hyun Chul (#24) who I am certain will go onto bigger and higher things hopefully with us, but if not he will be sure to have scouts looking at him this season. So versatile, can play anywhere across the midfield and not look out of place in any position. Can also play up front and do a decent job. Sprays a pass, gets stuck in and isn't afraid to shout at people if their not doing their jobs correctly.
Bae Ki Jong (#7) who will captain the side this campaign. Winger, who is quick and can beat his man with ease on his day. He can play on either wing and is decent with both feet. Missed the last third of last season with a nasty shoulder injury. Respected by all his team mates. Experienced footballer, played for Suwon Bluewings for quite a few seasons before coming south last season.
|Bae Ki Jong (center). Gyeongnam's new captain. (Photo Credit: K League Facebook Page)|
We have a young and very talented squad of players who always play football the right way. A well drilled manager and coaching staff are in place and from pre season performances being encouraging, I for one can't wait for the season to get going on March 5th. Our home stadium in Changwon is one of the best (maybe I'm slightly bias) in Korea. With the backdrop alone of the mountains being a must visit staduim this season.
|Changwon Soccer Centre, home of Gyeongnam FC. (Photo Credit: K League Football Page)|
Can we get up to the Classic where we belong, I believe? Times were so much better playing there. Bigger attendences, more away fans came to our place and created a much better atmosphere than now. Can our two new to the Kleague Brazilians click and settle in Korea? We have added lots of new faces and let some go as well, can the new players gel with the players that stayed from last season. Pre season has been going well by all accounts, so early signs are good. We had a problem last season with our goalkeepers. The manager didn't know his number 1 goalkeeper and he chopped and changed this near enough every week, which in turn unsettled the back four. We have 4 goalkeepers in our squad, 3 are all new signings. Lee Jun Hee #1 will be our first choice I think. Signed from Pohang in the off season.