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2019 Season Preview: Daejeon Citizen

2019 Season Preview: Daejeon Citizen
Daejeon Citizen head into the 2019 season looking to build on their Promotion Playoff Final appearance from last term. The Purples' foreign stars have stayed but fan favourite, Hwang Inbeom, has departed for Major League Soccer with Vancouver Whitecaps. The 2019 season will be a big test for gaffer Ko Jongsoo and his young squad. Daejeon Citizen Columnist Paul Neat takes a look ahead to the new season.


Last Season


W15 D8 L13 4th (Promotion Playoff Final)

What Happened?

After a sluggish start Daejeon put together a sequence of good results to give a great account of themselves, after the World Cup break in particular. An unbeaten run throughout August, September and into October saw the Purples reach the dizzy heights of third before eventually slipping to fourth where they remained right up until the final day. Then, a playoff semifinal win at home to Gwangju set Ko Jongsoo's side up for a visit to Busan where the former K League MVP's young team were soundly beaten by IPark by three goals to nil. Ultimately, it was progress and a season to look back on fondly after such a disgraceful showing in 2017. Ko was able to get Daejeon playing some attractive and attacking football during what was a very productive season for the Purples.

Season Review: here

Notable Moves

Yun (C) celebrates scoring for Suwon against Jeonnam in September 2017
Daejeon's most notably transfer to date is the loan acquisition of Yun Yongho from Suwon Bluewings. The attacking midfielder made five appearances for the Bluewings in 2018, including a cameo off the bench in Suwon's 4-1 win over Than Hoa in the AFC Champions League playoff. Highly thought of at Big Bird, the 22 year-old has been given the number ten shirt and is expected to be a an important player for Ko Jongsoo's team.

Lee Kwangjun, a promising 23 year-old centre back, has been brought in on loan from Pohang Steelers to help plug the gap left by Ko Myeongseok's departure. In midfield, Lee Jungmoon, dubbed the 'Yonsei Paul Pogba', was snapped up from Yonsei University.

Needs

Despite some key departures at the back, notably goalkeeper Park Junhyuk to Jeonnam Dragons and Ko Myeongseok to Suwon Bluewings, the Purples should have enough squad depth to cope in that department. Park Juwon and Kim Jinyoung will compete for the number one shirt whilst Lee Kwangjun, Lee Jeesol, and Yun Kyungbo will all be looking to fill the void left by Ko Myeongseok.

The Purples could perhaps do with another winger, though. At present, Shohruh Gadoev and Kim Seungseop remain as the team's only senior out-and-out wingers. Park Inhyeok often operated from out wide in 2018 but is more of a number nine and so another winger would add some much needed competition for places.

Key Player

Chițu (L) joined Daejeon from Viitorul
Perhaps more important than any possible incoming, retaining Daejeon's foreign stars Shohruh Gadeov, Sanzhar Tursanov, and Aurelian Chițu (above) will be seen as a huge boost heading into 2019. The latter was Daejeon's top scorer in 2018, despite only arriving once the season had already begun. With a pre-season under his belt, the Romanian will feel as though he is more than capable of surpassing his goal tally of 13 from last season and even reaching the 20 goal mark.

Young Player to Watch

Park Inhyeok (R) celebrates scoring against Bucheon in 2018
Park Inhyeok made the move to Daejeon from Hoffenheim last winter and became a regular fixture in the starting XI. The six foot one tall Seoul-born forward operated from the right-hand side for the best part of the 2018 season with Ko Jongsoo preferring Aurelian Chițu through the middle instead. However, Park's height and physical presence, coupled with his excellent technique, makes me the complete forward.

Last term was the first time that Park was given regular first team football having previously only notched up 20 appearances with three different clubs between 2015 and the start of the 2018 season. However, with his first full professional season under his belt, Park has the potential to go on and be a top player. His 15 caps for the Korea U23 team suggest that he is on the right track and could be a key player for the Purples should the 1997-founded club be able to mount a second consecutive promotion push.

In 2018, only Bucheon's Willian Popp had more shots than Park Inhyeok with 88 compared to 74, but 45 of which were on target, one more than Popp. Around 75% of Park's attempts on goal were inside the box (54), the highest in K League 2, and 18 of which were on target - two more than 2018 MVP Na Sangho.

 Biggest Question

Can Daejeon reach the heights of 2018?

Ultimately, Ko Jongsoo's young Daejeon team fell short and bowed out of the playoffs at the Promotion Playoff Final stage to Busan IPark. That said, after the disaster that was 2017, finishing fourth and giving the fans a reason to be proud of their team once again was quite an achievement in itself for the fledgling gaffer.

This season, with a more streamlined squad which boasts of some really promising young players such as Park Sooil, Park Inhyeok, Lee Jungmoon, and Lee Jeesol to name but a few, as well as the quality foreign trio of Tursanov, Gadoev and Chițu, the Purples have the tools for another good season. Can they go one better than last year?

Reason to Watch

The new season will be Ko Jongsoo's second season in charge and will be a big test for him as a manager. Citizen haven't began a season with the same manager since 2016 when Choi Moonsik was in charge. Continuity might just be what the Purples have been searching for.

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