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2018 Season Preview: Seoul E-Land FC


The K League 2 season is quickly approaching and no other team has a bigger point to prove this time around than Seoul E-Land. A poor finish last season saw them slump 8th in the division, and left nothing for their fans to talk about. 2018 brings in both experienced and new talent, and hopefully a new lease of life for the Leopards.
(image via facebook.com/SeoulEland)


Last Season

W7-D14-L15, 8th place

Their record last season definitely was not a reflection of their performance at the end of the 2016 season. After winning their closing six games of the season, E-Land failed to pick up a single point in their opening three games of 2017. Form did not improve much with a final record of seven wins, 14 draws (yes, you read that correctly, 14 draws) and 15 losses. The result was E-Land position third from bottom in the second tier of Korean football, only ahead of Daejeon Citizen and new boys, Ansan Greeners.

What Happened?

E-Land had a disappointing season in 2017. I understand a draw is better than a loss, but there were too many games last season that saw them go 1-0 or even 2-0 up and end up drawing the game. The Leopards crashed out of the FA Cup after only one game, so playing on multiple fronts could never be used as an excuse. Their home form was not actually too bad in context; only three of their 15 losses came at the Olympic Stadium. It was their poor and undisciplined away form that cost them. E-Land picked up four red cards last season, all of which cam away from home. Which asks the question for this season: can they improve away from home and keep all 11 players on the pitch?

Notable Moves

E-Land has been scouting the South American market this year. Venezuelan center forward Daniel Febles, who will wear their number 11 shirt, comes to Korea with 9 goals in 42 appearances for his home country team, Monagas. Febles showed in a preseason friendly against National side, Changwon City Office, that he brings added pressure up top. Febles should bring new attacking flair, which will hopefully help E-Land from not just picking up a lone goal per game. Additionally, the Leopards have gone with experience in the form of Jo Chan-ho, from FC Seoul, who will bring some first division experience to the side. The 31-year-old winger has already won two K League titles in his career, one with FC Seoul and the other with Pohang Steelers. In addition to Febles up top, having Chan-ho on the wing should also bring an attacking style to their play.

Needs

E-Land has a lot to prove to their fans and their doubters in 2018. Their foreign influences are nothing but a distant memory now, and their honeymoon period is well and truly over. E-Land has to show they can still draw up a lot of interest in their fans and that the E-Land group still have faith in the side. I feel that one of E-Land’s biggest needs is to keep hold of their leads in games. There were too many times last season they were convincingly winning a game only to lapse and let their opponents muster out a draw. Their defense was also a big problem last year, conceding 55 goals. No team will ever be filled with confidence after getting hammered 3-0 in the opening game of the season. For their part, the attack did what they could to keep Seoul in games with a number of high scoring games. The Leopards saw more 2-2 and 3-3 draws than 0-0 stalemates. This suggests the backline is more of an issue heading into 2018 than anything. If they can prevent even a single goal in another high scoring game this season, it may be enough to move E-Land up the table. They will need a lot of discipline in their defense and a team effort to prevent their opponents having chances on goal. Hopefully, the team can work together and be on the same page as the season begins.

Key Player 

Kim Young-kwang

It seems strange to pick a goalkeeper as a key player, but trust me, there is a method behind my madness. This season once again sees the leader of the pack, Kim Young-kwang, better known to you and me as “Glory” between the sticks. Glory has been with the side since their inception and has shown commitment to the team in the latter stages of his playing career. Glory’s involvement is vital this season as E-Land have to prove to their fans that they have the fight in them to finish better than they did last year. Hopefully, we can see his drive and passion for the side influence the new signings and push for a good season for the Seoul based team. Young-kwang will hope to keep a lot more clean sheets this time around and prevent conceding as many as he did in 2017. His leadership and passion will be key for the club on the field and often rubs off onto those in the stands as well. If he can have a strong season controlling the game from the back, then E-Land should be able to hold onto vital 1-0 leads and see games out instead of dropping points late.

Biggest Question 

Can they lift the spirits of the fans?

The main question this season is if they can pick themselves up from their poor showing last year. Simply put: E-Land has to improve on their 2017 campaign. They are based in the Olympic stadium in Jamsil, a 70,000-seated stadium, which struggles to bring in a couple thousand. Can this team bring successful and exciting football with their new signings and experienced players? Can they entice fans into the stadium and draw interest in this team? They have to focus on giving their fans something to cheer about this time around, if not, their attendances will only dwindle more.

Reason to Watch

From a footballing standpoint, E-Land cannot be as bad as they were last time around. They have signed new exciting South American talent and have a real point to prove to their fans and other teams in the league. They looked strong in their preseason camp, with a respectable 0-0 draw against K League 1 side Ulsan Hyundai, and a 5-1 win over Changwon City Office; their first win since August.

From a casual fan's perspective, E-Land is a great day out! Their home ground was home to the 1988 Summer Olympics and is draped in history. Its right next to Jamsil baseball stadium where the LG Twins and Doosan Bears play as well, so if you’re a sports fanatic (and as long as E-Land have an early kick-off) why not do both? The catering in the stadium is also exceptional; they have a booth selling great craft beer and an extensive range of food from food trucks on the usually unused running track surrounding the pitch. E-Land has erected a stand at the side of the field, so you really are on top of the action. Where E-Land maybe lagging a bit on the field, they certainly are not off it.

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