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Analysis: 2019 K League 1 Golden Boot Candidates

The newly re-branded Final Round is upon us and heading into the last five matches of the season, the Golden Boot race is still very much all to play for. Currently, Suwon Bluewings' Adam Taggart and Ulsan Hyundai's Junior Negao lead the way with 16 goals each, but with the likes of Wanderson from Pohang, and Incheon United's Stefan Mugoša just three goals behind, the 2019 season is set for another grand stand finish to determine who is League's leading marksmen. But, how do these, and the rest of the chasing pack, compare to each other?

Main Contenders

The players analysed in this study are those who are in double figures for the season and, for the sake of the research, for their current clubs. Uroš Đerić has been excluded as he has scored goals for two different teams: four for Gangwon and six for Gyeongnam. Also, players who have suffered season-ending injuries, such as Gangwon’s Kim Jihyun, have also been excluded.


A/B: Final Round A or B
Pens: Goals from penalty kicks
1st: First goal of the match
Points: Points earned from the player's goals
Games Won When Scored: How many wins the team have picked up when the player has scored
Goals vs A/B: Goals scored against teams in their team's Final Round (A or B)

Front Runners

Junior Negao

In his second season with Ulsan, and third in K League after joining from Daegu at the end of 2017, Gleidionor Figueiredo Pinto Júnior, or simply Junior, has 16 goals from 31 appearances this term. Ten of the Brazilian's 16 goals have been the first in games, more than any other player in K League 1 this season, wand only two have come from the spot. Furthermore, on account of Junior's goals, the Horangi are 11 points better off.

Junior tends to spread goals out more compared to his contemporaries, scoring in 14 different games this season, 11 of which were games which Ulsan have won. However, the 32 year-old has only scored two goals against teams in 'Final Round A' this season: one against Gangwon in a 2-0 win and one against Seoul in a 2-1 home victory in April. However, last term, Junior scored 22 goals and 12 of which came against teams in the top half of the table.

Adam Taggart

Socceroos striker Adam Taggart is joint top scorer with 16 goals. Whereas only six of the 16 have been the first in games, Taggart has scored nine goals against teams in the current bottom half, the most out of any player in the division. Such a record will bode well with Suwon Bluewings set to face off against the rest of the bottom half of the table when K League resumes on October 19th. Suwon have won seven games when Taggart has scored with 11 goals in total in said wins. Taggart's goals make up for 10 of Suwon's points, the second highest in the division behind Junior and Park Yongji of Sangju.


With 13 league goals, Wanderson is having quite the season - a career best in fact. However, the Brazilian utility man has scored in just eight different games, the second lowest amongst the current top scorers in K League 1. Unfortunately for the Pohang faithful, Wanderson scoring doesn't always result in a win for the team as the Steelers have won just four matches when Wanderson has found the back of the net. Wanderson has two hat-tricks and one brace to his name this term, thus propelling the former Daejeon Citizen, Jeju United, and Jeonnam Dragons man into the top three. However, Wanderson does have seven goals against teams in the current top half, the most out of any 'Final Round A' team, and as a player who isn't seen as an out-and-out striker, this is no mean feat.

Stefan Mugoša

Incheon United's Stefan Mugoša is joint second along with Wanderson with 13 league goals for the campaign. Only two have come from the spot and six have been the first goals in games. The Montenegrin has helped Incheon earn nine points as a result of goals which he has scored, the same amount as Cesinha at Daegu FC. However, Incheon have won just three games when Mugoša has scored, scoring four in total. But, five of his goals have come against teams in 'Final Round B', including two against relegation rivals Gyeongnam and Jeju United, enough to earn the team four points from the two match-ups.

Kim Bokyung

Ulsan Hyundai midfielder Kim Bokyung could be heading for his first K League crown but is also a surprise contender for the K League Golden Boot. His importance to the Horangi has earned the former Cardiff City man richly-deserved plaudits, suggesting the MVP award could be heading his way come the end of the season. But, as a midfielder, Kim is an unlikely but intriguing contender for the golden boot.

Kim has scored just one penalty and only three have been the first goals in games. However, Ulsan are 12 points better off as the result of his goals and have won nine matches when he has notched. He also has six goals against the teams in Final Round A, has scored in 11 different matches and also has seven assists, joint third in the league.


Daegu FC's mercurial attacking midfielder Cesinha is in contention for both the Golden Boot and the award for the most assists, much like his Ulsan counterpart Kim Bokyung. Behind Junior (10), Cesinha has scored the second amount of first goals in games with nine. Nine is also the number of points Daegu have picked up as a result of the Brazilian's goals.

Cesinha has scored in 11 different games but only five which Daegu have won, six goals in total. The 30 year-old has the second fewest amount of goals against teams in Final Round A with just four, only Junior has fewer with two. Furthermore, when Cesinha has scored against a team in the current top half, Daegu have won just once - the 2-0 win over Jeonbuk on 25th September.

However, given that Cesinha has had the most shots out of any player in the division by far with 152, 54 more than his nearest competitor, Junior with 98, and the most per 90 minutes with an average 4.77, and the most from outside the box with 99, 24 more than Lee Changmin of Jeju United in second, it stands to reason that, although Cesinha may not win the Golden Boot, he may have another entry for goal of the season in before the season is out.


Cesinha's teammate and compatriot Edgar has 11 goals for the season, not a bad return considering that the former Buriram United man missed a significant chunk of the campaign with a dislocated shoulder. Edgar has scored in 10 different games and has six goals against the current top six. He also has 10 goals in games which Daegu have won, six victories in total. Edgar has the most from the spot with three but is third for the amount of first goals scored.

Park Yongji

On loan from Incheon United as part of his military service, Park Yongji is having the season of his life with 11 goals scored. In three seasons with Incheon, Park managed just eight league goals and six before that with three different clubs. However, the 27 year-old has been a consistent scorer for Sangju this term, scoring all 11 goals in different games and eight of those goals have been the first in matches.

Park has five against the current bottom six, the same amount as Mugoša of Incheon. Park Yongji's 11 goals make up for 11 points for the army side this season. Without the FA Cup as a distraction, it will be interesting to see if Park can maintain this level of goal-scoring consistency before he is due to return Incheon at the end of the season.

Aleksandar Pešić 

Serbian striker Aleksandar Pešić broke into double figures in Round 32, scoring FC Seoul's equaliser in what went on to be a 2-1 defeat at home to Gyeongnam. Prior to which the former Red Star Belgrade man had gone six matches without a goal after returning from a broken toe which had the 27 year-old sidelined for eight weeks. Prior to his injury, Pešić lead the golden boot race after settling into life at Sangam very quickly.

However, given FC Seoul's indifferent form since summer, Pešić will be an unlikely golden boot winner but he does have five goals against teams in the current top six and 50% of his goals have been the game's opener. Pešić has the most amount of braces out of any of the current top scorers in K League with three.

Yun Illok

Former FC Seoul winger Yun Illok is currently on loan at Jeju from J.League 1 side Yokohama F. Marinos after departing Sangam at the end of the 2017 season. Yun is one of only four players in this list which have scored a hat-trick this season; ironically Yun's hattrick came against his former employers FC Seoul in a 4-2 Jeju win earlier in the campaign. This was the only game which Jeju have won when Yun has scored but the 27 year-old has managed to earn eight points with goals in five stalemates, as well as the aforementioned hat-trick. Only two of Yun's 10 goals have come up against teams in the current bottom half and so, based on Jeju's form, Yun Illok will be seen as a rank outsider for the golden boot.


With the amount of goals scored against teams in the bottom half, Suwon Bluewings' Adam Taggart looks set to go on to win the golden boot, this is especially impressive considering that none of the Socceroos' goals have come from penalties. Taggart, though, is out-scoring his Expected Goals (xG) considerable with an xG of 9.49 compared to 16 goals scored. The Socceroo's nearest competitor, Junior from Ulsan, has an xG of 16.63 with 16 goals scored.

Wanderson has seven goals against the current top six but three came in one match courtesy of a hat-trick against Gangwon, suggesting that this rate of scoring is unsustainable in the Final Round, this is also suggested in his xG of 8.06 with 13 scored. Stefan Mugoša of Incheon, who has an xG of 10.74 and 13 scored, has five goals against the current bottom six Incheon's record against the current bottom six is four wins, six draws and five losses, the Montenegrin may end up scoring more goals in games which the Durumi fail to win but could rival Junior and Taggart for the golden boot.

Past Golden Boot Winners Since 2013

2018 Marcão (26) - Gyeongnam FC (Championship Round)
2017 Johnathan (22) - Suwon Bluewings (Championship Round)
2016 Jung Jogook (20) - Gwangju FC (Relegation Round)
2015 Kim Shinwook (18) - Ulsan Hyundai (Relegation Round)
2014 Santos (14) - Suwon Bluewings (Championship Round)
2013 Kim Shinwook/Dejan Damjanović - Ulsan Hyundai/FC Seoul (Championship Round)

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