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2020 Season Preview: Suwon FC

Suwon FC

A new look Suwon FC side go into 2020 looking to break their playoffs duck after three straight bottom half finishes in the K League 2. Under ambitious new management with an overhauled playing squad, can the Gyeonggi-do side provide some optimism and excitement for their supporters?

Last Season

11W-10D-15L, 8th

What Happened?

After a strong start, the Gyeonggi-do side looked destined to be involved in a battle for the playoff positions, but a mid-season collapse left Suwon limping to a distant eighth placed finish as they took just three wins in the second half of the season. The side was criticised as being dull to watch and one dimensional, as the team's midfield struggled to exert any dominance in games, relying upon the side's wingers to create chances as none of the midfield featured in the K League 2's top ten for Key Passes.

The guiding light of the team was Nigerian striker Chisom Egbuchulam, who single-handedly kept the side competitive, scoring over a third of the team's goals to become the K League 2's second top scorer on 18 goals. This was not enough to keep the team relevant in the closing stages of the season, leading to coach Kim Dae-eui's resignation after three years at the helm.

Notable Moves

In the dugout, Kim Dae-eui was replaced in late November by former Ulsan Hyundai player and coach Kim Do-hyun, as he steps up to take his first K League management role. Kim suffered an immediate setback as Suwon's player of the season Chisom Egbuchulam decided not to sign a new contract, leaving for Chinese side MZ Hakka on a free transfer. Other regular starters to have left the side include left winger Kim Byong-oh (to Busan IPark) and seven-goal midfielder Baek Sung-dong (to Gyeongnam FC).

Kim Do-hyun
New gaffer Kim Do-hyun takes pre-season training

A strength in recent years for Suwon has been their shrewd recruitment of previously unheralded players, often from abroad. Former Korean U23 defender Choi Kyu-baek and veteran goalkeeper Yu Hyeon arrive from J League 2 sides V-Varen Nagasaki and Tochigi respectively, whilst veteran defender Choi Jong-hwan and exciting Japanese winger Masatoshi Ishida are likely to see gametime after signing from Seoul E-Land and Ansan Greeners. Late into this transfer window, Suwon acquired Slovakian target man Akos Szarka, a 193cm tall striker that netted 19 times last season for Hungarian second division side Gyirmot, and Brazilian forward Danilo Alves, who joins from Kazahk side Okzhetpes.

On paper, the most impressive signing of the window is attacking midfielder Marlone, who arrives from Brazilian giants Corinthians. The technical, creative player has regularly featured in the Serie A in each of the past seven seasons, winning the competition with Cruziero in 2014. It is hoped that the 27 year old can use his top flight experience to push Suwon towards higher levels of performance, and the signing will be seen as a statement of intent by their rivals. The Brazilian hit international headlines in 2016 as his golaço for Corinthians in the Copa Libertadores was nominated for a FIFA Puskás Award, where he was voted runner up.

Key Player 

Anh Byong-jun

North Korea international Anh Byong-jun is the one to watch in 2020 for Suwon FC, having bagged eight goals up front in his debut K League 2 season despite only featuring for 1,413 minutes. In a campaign disrupted by injury and the form of Chisom Egbuchulum, the 29 year old Japanese-born striker will look to step out of the shadows of the Nigerian and become Suwon's key marksman, although the striker will need to protect his body and stay fit to have any chance of building a solid run of form.

Anh Byong-jun
Anh Byong-jun in action against Busan IPark

Young Player to Watch

Han Jeong-woo

New coach Kim Do-hyun has been impressed with the form of Han Jeong-woo in training, a new signing from Kazahk Premier League side Kairat Almaty. The 21 year old is capable of playing anywhere across the front line but is most likely to be utilised as a winger given his blistering pace and close ball control. Han has been involved in the national team youth set up, but was omitted from the championship winning Korean U23 side that travelled to Thailand in January.

Read: AFC U23 Players to Watch

Han Jeong-woo
Han Jeong-woo in action for the Korean U23 team in a pre-Olympic qualifying friendly

Biggest Question 

Can coach Kim Do-hyun inject some flair and excitement into Suwon's style of play?

Coach Kim Do-hyun has promised to set out his side to play an attractive brand of attacking football, promising quick passing and skillful build up play after fans were subjected to three disappointing years of mediocrity since relegation to the K League 2 in 2016. Ambitiously and perhaps unrealistically, Kim has set the squad a target of promotion to the K League 1, and believes the side has the talent to compete for the title. He will need his side of largely new signings to gel quickly if the side is to have any chance of achieving this aim, however a first playoff appearance since Suwon were relegated to this level appears to be a much more realistic target, a route to the K League 1 which this side has successfully navigated before.

Read: K League 2 Preview | Listen: KLU Pod K2 Preview

Reason to Watch 

Suwon FC has made great strides in recent years to provide family friendly entertainment on and off the pitch, making it a great day out for the whole family. Suwon FC has become well known amongst neutrals for their unique off field entertainment, with unusual innovations including a pitch-side water park and a land train running around the pitch. On the pitch, it will be interesting to see if the coach can be successful in regalvanising a group of players that looked disenfranchised towards the end of last season. If the players can gel quickly and gain confidence, the citizen club has reason for optimism in 2020.

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