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Can Seoul E-Land Keep The Same Old Ambitions With A Brand New Squad?

 

The start of the 2022 K League 2 season is a restart year once again for Seoul E-Land. The Leopards have had a giant overhaul of players and the capital club will look to start the season with almost a brand new team. Chung Jung-yong remains the manager as he moves into the third and final year of his original three-year contract. 

With the K League 2 season quickly approaching, Michael Redmond looks at what has changed at Seoul E-Land in the offseason. Also looking at what to expect and some important dates set throughout the year. 
 

The Mass Exodus 

It was a winter of change for Seoul E-Land. Twenty-three players departed the club and some very noticeable members of the squad were included.  Fourteen players' contracts were not renewed, which included captain Kim Min-kyun. The number ten spend the majority of the season on the sidelines due to an injury in the first game of the season against Busan IPark. Benegas and Han Eui-gwon who were joint goal scorers with six goals were also shown the door. Babio was also not included in this year's plans. Jang Yun-ho and Go Jae-hyun finished their season and a half loan spells and returned back to their parent clubs. Yun-ho will return to Jeonbuk Hyundai and Jae-hyun will once again be part of the Daegu FC set-up. 

Leandro makes his move to Daejeon Hana Citizen for the 2022 K League 2 season (Image via Instagram.com/seouleland)

The two moves which hurt the fans the most were the transfers of Lee Sang-min to FC Seoul and Leandro's move to Daejeon Hana Citizen. A team that could be deemed as promotion rivals. Fans were divided over Lee Sang-min's move, as he was an integral part of the Seoul lineup. Many believed that the team should have experimented more without him in the starting eleven, now their wish will become a reality. 

Leandro's move was a lot more expected. The Brazilian signed a three-year contract in the middle of his one-year loan move to Seoul in 2020. With the talent already shown by the forward, it was apparent that Seoul could not keep him for the full length of time. 


New Beginnings 

Seoul E-Land brought in eighteen players from other clubs in the transfer window. They also called up Park Jun-yong from their U18 team to make it nineteen. Park Jun-yong was actually the first to be recognized as a new signing, as it was made official in early November. Fans will be excited to see a homegrown talent come up from the youth squad and feature in the senior team.  The eighteen-year-old will wear the number ninety this season. 

Dipping once again into the foreign market, Seoul brought in two Argentinian centre-forwards. Felipe Cadenazzi comes in from Club Atlético Alvarado and will wear the number nine shirt. The other signing is Mauricio Asenjo who comes in from  Independiente Rivadavia and will wear the number ten. What is interesting about these two signings is they both come from the second tier of Argentinan football, Primera Nacional. The last time the two sides met was back in January of last year when Alvarado ran out 3-0 winners. Cadanzzi played in the game but failed to score and Asenjo did not feature. 

Tsubasa will play for Seoul E-Land in the 2022 K League 2 Season

Another foreign signing for Seoul comes from within the K League, as Japanese midfielder Tsubasa is transferred in from Daegu Fc. Tsubasa spent most of his career in Poland before making to move to Daegu for the 2018 season.  

Seoul were very active in the K League market too. They brought in goalkeeper Yoon Bo-sang and midfielder Kim Won-sik from Gwangju FC.  Kim Won-sik was the captain of the relegated Gwangju side in 2021 and will meet them four times this year in league fixtures. The Leopards have also brought in Park Tae-jun from Seongnam and Lee Song-yoon from Jeonbuk. Both of these are loan moves. Another noticeable addition to the squad is Han Yong-su from Chungnam Asan. He will take vice-captain duties this season.

It is apparent that Seoul have had a major reshuffle in the squad this year. Big changes can really hurt teams. However, the last time that Seoul did this was for the start of the 2020 season and they finished just shy of a playoff position on goal difference. Only time will tell. 


Picking Up Where They Left Off, On The Road

It is common knowledge now that Seoul will play their games in Mokdong Stadium from the 2022 season. Jamsil Leoul Park (Seoul Olympic Stadium) is getting some much-needed refurbishment. Seoul played their last four games of the 2021 season away from home and they start this year in the same fashion. Seoul have the first four games against Gyeongnam FC, Chungnam Asan, Gimpo FC, and Gwangju FC all away from home. Seoul will welcome fans to their new home on Saturday, 19th March, when they welcome Chungam Asan to Mokdong for a 1:30pm kick-off. 

Some other noticeable fixtures are as follows; Seoul plays new K League 2 outfit Gimpo FC for the first time away on Saturday, 12th of March. That is then followed by relegated side Gwangju FC on Wednesday, 16th March. June and August will be Seoul's busiest periods with six games in each month. June looks especially challenging as four of those games will be played away from home. 

Seoul E-Land will play their games in the Mokdong Stadium from the 2022 Season (Image via Instagram.com/seouleland)

Seoul's month on the road is then followed by a challenging July of playing Jeonnam Dragons, Gwangju, Daejeon, and then Gyeongnam in that order. All are teams who will be looking to be in contention for promotion this year. The season will end for Seoul on Saturday, 15th October against Busan IPark at home. If Seoul are successful, then playoffs will commence. 

It is also important to note that playoffs have changed for the 2022 season. Winners of the K League 2 will replace 12th place in the K League 1. However, from this year 2nd place in the K Lague, 2 will then play 11th place in the K League 1 in a playoff game. Furthermore, teams ranked 3rd to 5th in the K League 2 will then play in playoffs (5th vs 4th and then the winner playing 3rd). The winner of that will then face 10th place of the K League 1 in another promotion/ relegation playoff. The changes do mean that there is potential for three teams from the second division to be promoted into the top flight for the 2023 season. 


Last Roll Of The Dice

Seoul E-Land manager, Chung Jung-yong is now in the last year of his original contract. The boss has made a point throughout his time at Seoul E-Land that he will get the club promoted. Seoul were very close to achieving a playoff position in 2020. However, 2021 was downright disastrous, finishing 9th out of ten teams. 

The boss is well informed of the players in the K League and bringing in Kim In-sung from Ulsan Hyundai in the summer of 2021 was a major boost for the Leopards. In-sung is now the captain of the team and he will push to help Seoul in their promotion drive. 

Once again, we will see a season of young players in the manager's plans, with players being brought in on loan from other teams, as well as additions of fresh young talent. The boss has the trait of playing young players and helping them become experienced league starters. 

Seoul E-Land manager Chung Jung-yong will go into the 2022 K League 2 season with a point to prove.

Some fans have become tired of the quality of football produced at Seoul E-Land and are calling for a new set-up in the team. Seoul replaced their entire coaching staff in the winter but still kept their manager. Even though Chung Jung-yong has made promises to change the style of play in Seoul, he has left a lot to be desired. With that being said, a manager the calibre of Chung Jung-yong has been able to attract big players to the club. Players such as Kim In-sung, Kim Sun-min, and Tsubasa just to name a few. These are players who may not have joined the club if another man was at the helm. 

This could be Chung Jung-yong's last attempt at the project he is trying to create at Seoul E-Land and we will only find our answer to see if he succeeded by the end of October. 

FNR

Here We Go Again 

The 2022 K League 2 season is gearing up to be one of the most interesting seasons of all. New teams, new payers, and new formats have energized the league once again. For the Seoul E-Land fan in Korea and around the world, it is a fresh start once again. A time to forget about the poor 2021 season and move forward in 2022.

Seoul will play in Mokdong Leoul Park for the first time and hopefully, fans will be able to see every game at the stadium. With the pressure of 2021 off the shoulders of the Leopards this year, another 2020 style year would be more than welcoming for the capital club this year.

New Seoul E-Land captain, Kim In-sung models Seoul's 2022 home uniform. (Image via Instagram.com/seouleland)

The K League 2 will have a number of big teams this year to keep an eye on. Daejeon will look to finally get it right and make their move to the top flight. Relegated Gwangju will look to bounce right back as well as Busan IPark who were relegated in 2020. Jeonnam Dragons will also have a point to prove, but they also have the Asian Champions League to contend with. 

However the season plans out and whoever are the winners and losers, this year is prone to be another interesting year in the second tier of Korean football.




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