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2021 Season Review: Chungnam Asan

Chungnam Asan improved on last season's overall finish, placing eighth in the table in their second season in K League 2 as a citizen club.  Several players stood out for the Owls, but inconsistency remained a stumbling block that denied them a chance to finish higher up in the standings.  KLU's Branko Belan recaps the season that was in 2021.

What Went Well

Chungnam Asan finished eighth in their second season in K League 2, recording eleven victories in the process, a significant step up from a season ago.  Park Dong-hyuk will remain Asan's manager for another season after the club decided to renew his contract at the end of the current campaign.  He was considered for the South Korea U-23 position earlier in the year after Kim Hak-bum decided to step down, but the role eventually went to former Daejeon Hana Citizen boss Hwang Sun-hong.

Alex Sandro, Kim In-gyun, and Park Han-geun were some of the standout players for the team this season, as were Park Se-jin and Choi Kyu-baek but the team could look much different in 2022 with several players set to leave the club.  However, after a subpar first year in K League 2 last year, the team improved in several areas and will look to build on that success next year.

What Didn't Go Well

A six match winless streak from mid-April to early June set the team's early progress back and another five match winless run from mid-June to early July effectively erased any chance the team may have had to finish higher in the table.  They were playing catchup much of the rest of the way, and never really recovered.

Those kinds of inconsistencies will need to be addressed in the off-season for the team to be better prepared for the new season.  Asan may still be a few years away from being a playoff contender but there is no reason why a finish higher than eighth cannot be achieved.  If not for four points from their final two matches of the year, they could have risked finishing bottom of the table once again.

Young Player of the Year

Kim In-gyun

Kim In-gyun not only led the team in goals but showed his ability to play multiple positions.
The team leader in goals with eight, Kim was a constant attacking presence for the majority of the season, causing problems for defenders on the flanks on a regular basis.  He won the K League 2 Young Player of the Year award but that will mean that expectations will be higher for him next year.  Will he be able to live up to his performances in 2022 or will he experience a sophmore jinx?

Team MVP

Kim In-gyun

The U-22 star is also the team's MVP for the 2021 season.  He accumulated four goals and one assist over the first nine matchdays of the year and twice scored two goals in a match, with Seoul E-Land being on the end of his scoring prowess on both occasions.  Never was it more important than in the final match of the season where his brace was the difference in the Owls' 2-1 win over the Leopards.

He made 32 total appearances in the league for the club, 25 of them starts and also played three times in the FA Cup, helping the side to the Round of 16, where they were eventually ousted by K League 1 side Pohang Steelers.  Although listed as a left back, he played several different positions throughout the year, eventually developing into more of an offensive player becuase of injuries in the team.  He played on both sides of midfield, as a winger, and twice as a forward.  That sort of versatility will make him a multiple threat for opponents in the future, as he will be a difficult player to scheme for.

Finishing the season on a high sets him up for a strong off-season barring injuries but the expectation is that he will be looking to improve on his numbers and play an even bigger role for the club next year.

Most Disappointing Player

Matheus Alves

Alves did not live up to expectations with Asan in 2021.
Asan struggled to score goals in their first season in K League 2 in 2020.  The Brazilian was brought to the club to provide a solution to the problem.  Unfortunately, he didn't really adapt to playing football in Korea as much as it was hoped he would.  He made just six starts all year and only scored three league goals, a much lower output than expected.

He also missed chunks of the year as a result of not being picked for the squad and also spent time off due to injury.  He never earned the trust of Park Dong-hyuk and his future with the club at the moment is very much up in the air.  A lot of Asan's attacking options will be leaving over the winter, so it remains to be seen if he will be given a second chance to prove himself, or if he will be moving elsewhere as well.  The return on investment was extremely low, so his days with the club may indeed be numbered.

Biggest Question in the Off-Season

Roster Replacements

Alex Sandro was one of the club's best players this past season.
Several players will be leaving the club in the very near future, or have already left.  The contracts of Alex Sandro and Park Se-jin are set to expire at the end of the year, and five players have already returned to their parent clubs as a result of their loan deals expiring.  Kim Chan and Lee Hyun-il will return to Pohang Steelers, Lee Seung-jae will return to FC Seoul, Lee Kyu-hyuk will return to Jeju United, and Hong Hyun-seung will return to Seongnam FC.  

There is the possibility that some of these players may return on loan once again next year, but if that does not end up being the case, the club will have a lot of work to do over the winter to shore up the roster.  What Asan does to prepare for the 2022 season in terms of player personnel will directly impact their standing in the league and may or may not set them back after the progress that was made this year.  


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