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2018 Season Preview: Daegu FC

A newly promoted side, Daegu FC had an amazing year in K League 1 last year, shattering doubts about being relegated from experts. Daegu are now working hard, turning their eyes to becoming a top six team in K League 1. Do their dream come true this season?
(image via Daegu FC Facebook)

Last Season

W11-D14-L13, 8th place in K League 1

What Happened?

With high expectations to stay in K League 1 and underlying concerns of the likelihood of being relegated, Daegu’s adventure kicked off in a somewhat rocky fashion from the opening match against Gwangju FC. In the very first match of 2017, the team was forced to face a “fierce reality” with a change of plan due to key player injuries and disharmony on the field. These two factors played into Daegu's rough start of just two wins, three draws, and seven loses from their first 12 games. This eventually led manager Son Hyun-joon to step down from his post. In the aftermath, then assistant coach Andre Gaspar quickly picked up the pieces as an interim manager and bounced back with a 2-0 victory over Sangju on his debut match. He would go on to lead the team to an 8th place finish and safety from the relegation drop zone with weeks left in the season. His sincere devotion and proven ability led to his permanent assignment as manager and he is about to make his first year long journey as the head man.

Notable Moves

Outbound: Junior (Ulsan), Evandro (FC Seoul), Kim Sun-min (Asan Mugunghwa)

Undoubtedly, losing Junior, Evandro, and Kim Sun-min is very critical to Daegu as they played major roles in the 2017 attack by creating 23 of Daegu's 50 goals and 11 assists in total.

Inbound: Ko Seung-bum (one year on loan from Suwon bluewings), Jung Sun-ho (Seongnam FC)

Tactically, Daegu make a good use of each flank with wing backs like Jung Woo-jae, Oh Gwang-jin, and Hong Seung-hyun. Last year, the left side was very solid and active while the right side was relatively weak with no real resource from bench. In order to give more options on the right side, Daegu’s ambitious choice of Ivan Franjic, the Australia International right wingback, didn’t bare any fruit and left fans disappointed. However, this year, Daegu have opted to play it safe by taking Ko Seung-bum on a year loan from Suwon Bluewings. He mainly played as a right wingback in Suwon, but his original position was central midfielder. After being short on midfielders and right wingbacks least year, this seems a very good choice for Daegu to have such a versatile player. Also, Daegu have very fond memories of a loaned player from Suwon, Lee Jong-sung, who rose to a regular starting spot after a successful year in Daegu.

Jung Sun-ho is expected to replace Kim Sun-min’s role and joined Daegu FC from K League 2 side Seongnam FC. Technically, he became a free agent after he injured his knee while completing his military service at Sangju Sangmu, so it remains questionable as to whether or not he can get back to the good form he was in before the injury. He is remembered as a very diligent player (though not very offensive) in the center, which Daegu FC are looking for. Therefore, it would be a good selection as long as he can get healthy.


Daegu desperately need “a classic defender” who can take a role in a back three or back four as a central defender. The rumor going around is that last year’s captain, Park Tae-hong, left the team for unknown reasons. Personally, I think it is a reasonable choice to let Park Tae-hong leave as he was spotty at the back, and often lost his temper on the pitch. Even though his departure makes sense, it has left a big hole at the back. In this regard, it is a huge shame for us not to be able to get Kim Dong-woo on a permanent deal from FC Seoul. As far as I know, there’s one defender who is being trialed this winter and if this turns out to be a decent contract, Daegu’s possibility to survive will be greatly improved.

Key Player(s)


This will be his third year in Daegu and he has become quite famous as other teams’ fans are aware of him. Aside from his most visible records (seven goals and seven assists from 27 appearances), he was ranked among the most fouled players in the league last year, meaning opponents are significantly wary of him. This year will be more challenging for him as his skill and habits have been unveiled to all K League teams, but he will be able to cope with it anyway.

Cho Hyun-woo

Daegu’s goal will remain sealed as long as Cho Hyun-woo is there. 2017 will be never forgotten for him and Daegu fans. His reputation and ability as a talented goal keeper was not publicly recognized until 2017 when Daegu got promoted to K League 1. Through his outstanding play in the top tier, he made the deserved step up to the Korean National Team. He was not only awarded K League 1 Best GK by leading Daegu to survive relegation battles, but also EAFF Championship MVP, by leading the Korea National Team to the title in the winter competition. With all this, he is obviously hoping to be part of the KNT squad heading to the World Cup in Russia this summer. This should help Daegu significantly as his club form will determine whether or not he makes that trip.

Biggest Question 

A result of friendly match against Suwon FC this winter made Daegu fans more pessimistic about this season’s future. Not only did Daegu fail to score, but they also conceded three goals to the K League 2 side. In spite of that, it was a just a practice match... but given the fact we had the best members starting the game, it is a very embarrassing and humiliating result.

How solid and strong is the defense?

Last season, Daegu held 10 clean sheets, but conceded 52 goals in 38 games for an average of 1.8 goals per game. The first half of the season was especially poor and it wasn't until the 13th game of the season when Daegu finally accomplished a clean sheet. A large part of this was due to Park Tae-hong and Hong Jung-woon being out of squad due to injuries and Daegu had to make do with Kim Woo-suk and Kim Jin-hyuk. A rookie and a player who originally was not a defender. It was only after Kim Dong-woo joined that the back line settled and found their form.

This season, I don’t think the back line has been properly strengthened. Visibly, there’s no addition to the squad even though Hong Jung-woon has returned from injury. I am sincerely concerned that Daegu would go the same path as they did last year with a poor start to the season.

Can Daegu maximize the Brazilians like last year?

Daegu have been very reliant on foreign players in terms of attacking, and that trend will not change this year. With an Asian player slot still unfilled, it is of paramount importance to maximize the benefit of three Brazilians up top. Last year, this strategy was very successful with a synergetic effect of a Brazilian manager to his players. This season, new additons Jean and Caion will be aiming at the opponent’s goal with a back-up from Cesinha. Additionally, Korean players like Jeon Hyun-chul abd Hwang Soon-min need to mingle with the Brazilians so that they are able to back up from the second line.

Reason to Watch

The last season in Daegu Stadium.

2018 will be the last season before we move to a brand new stadium being constructed, which means that we could be throwing a party in K League 2 if we fail to prove ourselves this year. So, Daegu have a very good reason to play even harder to wrap up this season with the best result in Daegu Stadium's history. Regarding the commemoration with Daegu stadium, there will likely be some events and official merchandise to mark the end of the “Daegu stadium era.”

Will Mr. Cho's regime continue?

Daegu FC chief president, Cho Kwang-rae, has been doing his job well since 2014. Under his regime, Daegu have achieved many things in terms of football infrastructure and robust financial support from local entrepreneurs. Daegu has has some difficulties during his time, but most fans feel the team has improved a lot and are hoping that his regime lasts until Daegu become strong enough to stand alone. This is absolutely up to the performance and rank of the club at the end of the season.

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