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2020 Season Preview: Daejeon Hana Citizen

2020 Season Preview: Daejeon Hana Citizen
Following a big-money takeover from Hana Financial Group, and under the stewardship of Hwang Sun-hong, Daejeon Hana Citizen will be seen as one of the favourites for promotion from K League 2. The Purples have been stuck in the second tier since relegation in 2015 and have made the playoffs just once. But, after a busy transfer window, Daejeon Hana Citizen will be keen to make a long-awaited return to the top flight. 

Last Season

8W 11D 17L, 9th

What Happened?

Daejeon suffered something of a playoff hangover last season. The team failed to reach the same heights which it did in 2018 when the Purples made it to the Promotion Playoff Final. Daejeon struggled for goals, scoring on average less than a goal a game with just 31 for the season, and finished second bottom of the league. Citizen managed just eight wins all season too and only three at home, leaving the Purple Arena faithful very little to smile about.

After a poor run of form, manager Ko Jong-soo was sacked and in came former Ansan Mugunghwa gaffer Lee Heung-sil in July. Lee steadied the ship and guided Daejeon to a solid end of season finish, losing just once in their last 11 outings. However, Lee would then depart at the end of the season following a takeover from Hana Financial Group with Hwang Sun-hong tasked with taking Daejeon back to the promised land.


Notable Moves

Korean international Kim Dongjun was signed for a reported club record-breaking fee from Seongnam.
Daejeon have been extremely busy in the transfer market, essentially signing enough players to field a whole new team. Former Incheon United and Pohang Steelers defensive midfielder Connor Chapman will be the standout name, but the Purples have also signed former Korean U23 international goalkeeper Kim Dong-jun for what was a club-record transfer fee, forward Yoon Seung-won from FC Seoul, striker Park Yong-ji from Incheon United, as well as a whole host of others. These three signings in the particular, not to mention Bruno Baio joining from Jeonnam Dragons, shows that the Purples mean business. Park Yong-ji scored 12 goals in K League 1 last term whilst Baio scored 10 in just 16 appearances for the Dragons. Chapman is a proven player at K League 1 level, let alone K League 2, and experienced centre back Lee Woong-hee from FC Seoul is seen as the final piece of the puzzle.

Needs

Given the number of in-comings into Purple Arena, Daejeon will need time to gel as a team. The squad looks completely different from that of last season and is definitely taking shape. Manager Hwang Sun-hong did say that he expects all foreign player spots to be filled but the squad doesn't appear to need much else. Rather than any personnel needs, it may be a case that the Purples just need to get off to a good start. The team have had time on the training ground and have been in good form in pre-season so the Purples should be ready to hit the ground running.

Key Player

Connor Chapman
Chapman (L) has 60 K League appearances to his name from his spells with Incheon and Pohang.
It cannot be stressed just how much of a coup the signing of Connor Chapman is for Daejeon Hana Citizen. Chapman is a proven player at K League 1 level, let alone K League 2, and would perhaps get into any team in the top division in that screening midfield role. Citizen have made a real statement of intent with this signing and are clearly targeting promotion as soon as is humanly possible.

In 2018, whilst with Pohang Steelers, Chapman recorded four assists and ranked fifth in K League 1 for interceptions made with 211, joint third for shots blocked with 21, just three fewer than Park Ji-soo, seventh overall for passes made, and 12th for passes into the final third. Before departing Western United in the Hyundai A-League, Chapman made eight starts for the newly founded team and helped guide the Melbourne-based side into third place. During those eight appearances, Chapman has a 92% passing accuracy rate, 78% for long passes, has won more than 50% of his duels, and has made 39 interceptions.

Chapman believes that Daejeon are going to have a strong 2020:

"The team is doing well, I think. André Luis and Bruno Baio, who has obviously been here before (Jeonnam), have settled in really well. I think André Luis is going to be a very exciting player, not only as a K League 2 player but I think his quality is K League 1. If he was in K League 1, I reckon he would be one of the best in the league, up there fighting with Césinha and players like that.

I think the signings we have had are very exciting, we have got some experienced players like [Cho] Jae-cheol from Gyeongnam FC, [Kim] Dong-jun the goalkeeper who is one of the best in Korea so there's a good mix of players in our team and I am sure that Daejeon won't be happy with anything less than promotion this season."


Young Player to Watch

Lee Ji-sol


The 2019 season was a real breakthrough year for young central defender Lee Ji-sol. The Korea U20 international, who featured heavily for the young Taeguk Warriors in the U20 World Cup in Poland last year, scoring in the quarter-finals against Senegal, racked up 25 league appearances for the Purples. Lee, who joined from Suwon Samsung Bluewings' youth team in 2018, had previously only played a handful of first-team games, and found life a somewhat difficult at the beginning of the campaign, but settled into the first team with relative ease. This coming season will be a great opportunity for the 20-year-old to kick on and establish himself as a top player by winning promotion with Daejeon. There aren't many players in the squad under the age of 22 who will be afforded a great deal of game time, Lee Jung-moon being the exception, and so Lee will be one to watch for Daejeon.


Biggest Question

Can Daejeon win promotion?

That has to be the aim given the amount of business the Purples have done in the transfer market. Another pertinent question though is whether they are better than Jeju United or Gyeongnam FC? Both Jeju and Gyeongnam have managed to keep some of their better players and have recruited well too. Jung Jo-gook is as stellar signing at this level, and a motivated Uroš Đerić getting on the end of the balls from the returning Negueba could well break the K League 2 goal record. If Daejeon can gel quickly then there's no reason why they can't challenge for the playoffs at the very least as their squad is the best they have had since relegation five years ago.

Reason to Watch

Following the takeover from Hana Financial Group, all eyes will be on Daejeon to see if they can be one of the front runners for promotion. With some genuinely exciting acquisitions such as Chapman, Andre Luis, Park Yong-ji and Kim Dong-jun just to name a few, there's no doubting that the quality is there. Also, manager Hwang Sun-hong will have something of a point to prove given the way he left FC Seoul in 2018. Hwang will be determined to get his career back on track and it will be interesting to see if the former striker has learned from his mistakes.

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