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2019 Season Preview: Incheon United

Incheon United head into another K League 1 season hoping to improve on the last and once again avoid the relegation battle. But there is also a hint of hope that maybe, just maybe, they could make the top half for the first time since 2013.


Last Season

10 W, 12 D, 16 L, 9th place

What Happened?

The 2018 season wasn't one that will be remembered fondly. Incheon United finished the season strongly, winning their final four games, and that basically saved them from relegation. But that should also lead to questions about why they couldn't find that form during the rest of the season.

The highlights from last year included two wins over arch rivals FC Seoul and an early season shock victory against giants, Jeonbuk Hyundai. On the flip side, the negatives were a home FA Cup defeat to National League side, Mokpo City, plus the 7-0 Summer hammering by the hands of Gangwon FC.

Overall, it wasn't a great season but there were at least signs that there is something there to build on.

Notable Moves

To start with, there were a couple of notable departures away from Sungui Arena Park. Firstly, a member of the K League star XI and Costa Rican international, Elias Aguilar, finished his loan spell and joined Jeju United. The midfielder will be sorely missed as he created twelve goals last season.

Also leaving Incheon is South Korean International winger, Moon Seon-min, who has joined K League champions, Jeonbuk Hyundai. Seon-min scored fourteen goals last season and really came into his own during his second K League campaign.

Although, Incheon have had some more positive news with their acquisitions ahead of the 2019 K League season. Firstly, experienced wide midfielder, Jiloan Hamad, has joined from Swedish club, Hammarby. Hamad has eight international caps for Sweden, but has recently been called up by Iraq. He should fill the hole left by Moon Seon-Min.

Secondly, the interesting loan signing of the Vietnamese Messi, Nguyễn Công Phượng. The Vietnam international has a small amount of experience playing in Japan, for Mito Hollyhock, but mainly he's been playing in the V-League. He's a key player for the South East-Asian nation, at international level, and was impressive during the recent Asian Cup. Time will tell if he will adapt to the K League or not.

Key Player

Montenegrin international and last seasons top goalscorer, Stefan Mugoša, will be the main man at  Sungui Arena Park once again this coming season. He scored nineteen times last year and when he wasn't playing Incheon were really lacking offensively. He signed a two year deal recently so it's great to see the Incheon United board believe in his value too.

Young Player to Watch

Kim Jin-ya is a regular in the Incheon United starting XI despite being only 20 years old. He was part of the South Korea squad that won the 2018 Asian Games, and he was converted from a winger in 2017 to a solid full-back in 2018. He will be an asset this coming season for Incheon United.

Biggest Question

Can Incheon avoid another relegation battle?

For the past five seasons Incheon United have finished in the bottom half, and have generally been in the relegation battle. They have fortunately been able to avoid relegation and the relegation playoff so far, but it's often been a close call.

But will this season be any different? Incheon have kept most of their core players heading into this season and have replaced those who've left with solid additions. Manager Jørn Andersen has had a full pre-season with the team, which will help sure up issues at the back. Finally, keeping hold of Mugoša will hopefully lead to a solid number of goals this coming season.

So overall, Incheon have the keys to successfully avoid the relegation battle this season. Fingers crossed that they use them.

Reason to Watch

The first reason to watch Incheon United this season is that they can score goals for fun. Last year, the issue wasn't being able to find the back of the net on a regular basis, it was sadly holes in the defence.

The second reason to watch Incheon this coming season is that they have a nice mixture of international foreign players, experienced domestic players and most importantly, they use their young talented players on a regular basis.

Finally, Incheon play in one of the nicest stadiums in the K League and have some of the most passionate fans. The atmosphere at Sungui Arena Park is very enjoyable, even for neutral supporters. 

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