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Preview: Chungnam Asan FC vs Bucheon FC 1995



It's the beginning of a new era in Asan with former military side Asan Mugunghwa completing its transformation into a citizen club in the off-season.  They will be introduced to K League 2 this coming Sunday as Chungnam Asan FC and their first opponents in the 2020 campaign will be Bucheon FC 1995, who finished fourth in the table last season but were eliminated in a semi-final playoff.  Park Dong-hyuk returns as manager knowing he has a mountain of a job on his hands.  The good news, perhaps, is that expectations are not particularly high, so it will be worthy to see if they can spring a surprise or two in the matches ahead.  KLU's Branko Belan looks ahead to the match.

Match: Chungnam Asan FC vs Bucheon FC 1995
Venue: Yi Sun Shin Stadium
Kickoff: Sunday May 10th, 2020; 13:30 KST

Pre-Season

Chungnam Asan FC

There has been a whirlwind of change in Asan in recent years, as the club had gone from being crowned K League 2 champions in 2018, to potentially going defunct after last season, to finally making the successful transition to a citizen club that is ready to compete in the second division in 2020.  One of the men most responsible for that success is manager Park Dong-hyuk, whose contract was extended over the winter.  He's been with the club since 2016 and there simply is no one who is more in tune with both the players and the organization to begin penning a new chapter in the club's history.

The off-season saw them make their first two foreign signings in former Austrian youth international Armin Mujakic and Swedish-born Philip Hellquist.  Both have begun to settle in at the club, and are hoping to have integral roles as the season progresses, already having taken well to their roles as active ambassadors for the club.

The preseason was not particularly busy in terms of warmup matches, as they played only one intra-squad match, but also a friendly against K League 1 champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, which ended 5-3 for the Jeonju-based squad.


Bucheon FC 1995

Bucheon will look almost an entirely new squad this season with several departures in the transfer window.  Gone are Kim Ryun-do, now with Ansan Greeners, Marlon de Jesus, who returned to his native Ecuador to play for CD El Nacional, Nilson Junior, who moved to FC Anyang, and AFC U-23 champion Kim Jae-woo, now with Daegu FC, while several others are doing their military service this season.  Vice-captain Lim Dong-hyuk also left to join Jeju United.

One of the more important players for Bucheon this year will be Cho Beom-seok, who returned to the club last season after finishing his military service with Asan Mugunghwa.  He was part of the 2018 championship squad and played fairly regularly after returning to his parent club.  Two important additions to the club are William Barbio, who last played for AD Confiança in the third division in Brazil and Jefferson Baiano who spent the past two years in Japan.


Previous Meetings

Things did not end well for Asan last season, as they went winless in their last seven matches overall, but even more concerning going into this weekend is the fact that they conceded three goals in each of their last two losses to Bucheon late last season.

Admittedly, things began to fall apart for the former military club when they lost a good chunk of their squad in August, while Bucheon found their form late on to capture fourth place at the end of the season and a spot in the playoffs.

Both teams look much different following big changes at both clubs, so it remains to be seen how things will play out this coming Sunday.

Team News

It is difficult at this point to predict how Asan will line up for their opening match, as they mostly played with one striker up front last season with a pair of wingers.  But, having brought in two declared strikers in the window, there is reason to believe that the tactical setup may look a bit different this season.  The only way this could look different is if Mujakic takes on the lead striker's role on his own, which would potentially see Hellquist move out to the wing, where he is also capable of playing.

The visitors also have a lot of decisions to make regarding their starting eleven.  There is a lot of young talent at the club currently, and also many players who are still looking to gain experience and consistent minutes on the pitch, but one thing is for sure - they will look completely different when they take the field for the first round of matches this weekend.  No injuries have been reported, so there should be a full squad available for selection.

The Adversary

Bucheon 1995 pre-season training in Chang Mai, Thailand
Bucheon will have to get off to a good start in order to match their fourth place finish of a season ago.


Bucheon are a much different looking outfit heading into this season, so it could be a challenge for the coaching staff to get everyone on the same page in the early stages of the season.  If they are going to be a factor in the second division, they simply can't afford to get off to a slow start.  This is a group which does not have a lot of experience playing together, as many of their aforementioned pieces have already left or are currently on military duty.

If there is one thing that Bucheon can guarantee, it's late drama and perhaps a few goals.  They have been involved in some memorable encounters over the past few seasons and it is very likely that this season will be no different.  Their midfield has mostly remained intact, but that leaves questions regarding the back line and just how long it may take for the new attacking options to get accustomed to playing football in Korea.

Who to Watch

There are a few players who could impact the match for both sides, namely the foreign signings for both clubs, Mujakic and Hellquist for Asan and Barbio and Baiano for Bucheon.  There is no question that all of the mentioned players were brought into their respective clubs for very particular reasons.  Asan struggled for goals last season, especially after losing Ko Mu-yeol, and Oh Se-hun also left in the off-season to join Sangju Sangmu to do his military service.

Bucheon lost a lot of its offensive firepower as well, so there will have to be an immediate impact from the Brazilians to keep them in matches early on in the season.  Baiano in particular has a good frame for a striker and will be a threat in front of goal once he gets his bearings in the division.  In 34 matches for Montedio Yamagata last season in J League 2, he found the net on seven occasions.

FNR

Prediction

When the two sides played each other the first time last season, it was a back and forth affair, with Asan eventually prevailing 3-2 thanks to a hat-trick from Ko Mu-yeol.  Whether it will be another goal fest this time around is debatable at best owing to all the new faces arriving at both clubs.  If one team is to have a slight edge, it may be Asan, as they are at home, and their group has been together a bit longer.

However, a lot will come down to execution and limiting unforced mistakes, something which both sides were prone to last season.  With a lot still up in the air, it would be fair to see both sides take a share of the spoils, but the story on the pitch could tell a very different story.

Predicted Score: Chungnam Asan FC 1-1 Bucheon FC 1995   
  

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