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Interview: Gyeongnam FC's Nick Ansell

After the disappointment of relegation to K League 2, Gyeongnam FC have moved swiftly to ensure their stay in the second-tier will be short-lived by signing a number of new names including former Jeonnam Dragons defender Nick Ansell. K League United's James Edrupt spoke with the Reds' latest acquisition about the season ahead.

It's been all change for Gyeongnam FC this off-season with several comings and goings in and around the club due to their relegation from K League 1 into K League 2, following their 2-0 aggregate relegation/playoff defeat at the hands of bitter rivals Busan IPark.  26-year-old Australian defender and former Melbourne Victory centre-back Nick Ansell joined the club last month, to fill the team's Asian quota as key Japanese midfielder and undoubtedly best player Kunimoto joined reigning K League 1 champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the winter.

Ansell joined up with the squad in Thailand after signing a contract with the reds and jetted off to meet his teammates a few days later.  Ansell is no stranger to the K League with the six-foot one-inch defender playing fifteen times for Jeonnam Dragons last season in K League 2.  He comes to the Reds hoping to be the answer to plugging a leaking hole that was the Gyeongnam's defence last campaign.  They let in a staggering 55 goals in 33 games (an average of 1.6 goals a game), the second-worst in the league, behind also relegated Jeju United who conceded 61.  Nick will wear the number two shirt for the Reds this season.  If Gyeongnam are to gain promotion, Ansell and the ever-present in the heart of defence Lee Kwang-seon will have to form a steady relationship pretty much from the word "go".

James Edrupt: First of all Nick, welcome to Gyeongnam FC.  You played last season for Jeonnam Dragons.  How has the transition been for you from the A-League to the K League?  What are the main differences between the two leagues in your opinion?

Nick Ansell:  Thank you.  I think the standard in K League 2 and A-League are similar.  However, I do think both leagues are different with the K League being much more direct in transition during the game whereas the A-League tends to be more tactical and structured.

JE:  There have been a lot of Australian footballers that have played here in the K League over the years.  Do you have any friends that are playing here presently?  Any players you've played with or against?

NA:   Yes, I have played with Connor Chapman now playing for Daejeon Hana Citizen, Terry Antonis, and Adam Taggart who both play for Suwon Bluewings, on national team duty and obviously Antonis was a team member with me at Melbourne Victory.  I have also played against Brandon O'Neil who has just moved to Pohang Steelers.

JE: How did the transfer to Gyeongnam materialize?

NA:  The transfer happen really quickly in all honesty.  The opportunity came up and my agent spoke to me and told me how the team wanted to play and that they wanted me to be part of it.  It was 100% something I wanted to pursue.

JE: How have the club been with you since coming on board, and how have the first two to three weeks or so been like training over in Thailand?

NA:  Yeah it's been a really easy transition, I think playing already in Korea for one year I already knew what to expect for the different mentality that is in Korean teams.  I also have a great group of foreign boys here too, so this has also made it a lot easier for me to settle in so quickly.  The training aspect so far has been really good, it was a nice camp set up in Thailand.  The way I've seen the team play and how we're looking it's all pretty positive from my perspective.  

Ansell (far right) enjoying Gyeongnam FC's pre season training camp in Thailand.

JE:  As you know the club was relegated into K League 2 after a bad campaign last year.  What can the club achieve this season?

NA:  I think from already having experience in this league I know it's not an easy league to play in and get out of.  I think it's important that we start the season well, the team has so much quality so I have no doubt we'll be punching near the top of the division and definitely making a push for promotion. 

JE:  Here's the last one from me.  What are your personal aims and ambitions for the season?  Is there any message you would like to relay to the Gyeongnam supporters?

NA:  My personal ambitions would be to try to help the team as much as possible during games and help us get back up into K League 1.  I think it's very achievable with what I've seen in Thailand.  With the new coach Seol Ki-hyeon and his staff, I think we can achieve something special this year with this team.  

For the fans, "I want them to know that I'll always give 100 per cent every time I step onto the pitch, and I look forward to meeting them soon".

It was a pleasure to sit down and talk to Nick about his thoughts about the upcoming 2020 K League 2 season for Gyeongnam. Thanks again for taking the time to speak to K League United.

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