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2023 Preview: Can Bucheon FC 1995 Go One Step Further?

2023 K League 2 Preview
The 2022 K League 2 season was marked with a number of successes for Bucheon FC 1995. The Reds had a lot to prove after finishing last the year prior and redemption was on the cards. The season was full of hope but unfortunately ended with the Gyeonggi-do side being knocked out of the first playoff game against Gyeongnam FC. A goal in the dying embers of the game was a painful loss and left a lot of fans wondering what if. 

This season brings a Bucheon side who are hungry to go that one step further and to push for promotion. When discussing teams who are likely to be promoted in the K League 2, Bucheon rarely is involved in that conversation. However, after last year's performance, the side will want to change that. Michael Redmond looks at what to expect from Bucheon FC 1995 this year. 

Moving Forward, Moving Up

It was no doubt a great season for Bucheon FC 1995 last year. They finished 4th in the league. Securing  61 points from 40 games. This included 17 wins, 10 draws, and 13 losses. If you compare that to the 2021 season when they ended up in last place (10th). They only managed 37 points out of 36 games. That season included 9 wins, 10 draws, and 17 losses. It was a definite improvement which was rewarded with a fourth-place finish. Their season ended in the first playoff game however as they lost 3-2 to Gyeongnam FC.  

Bucheon 1995 were very close to progressing to the playoff final in the 2022 K League 2 season.
With this in mind,  Bucheon will feel like they will be able to compete at the top in the 2023 season. They played a solid style of football last year which was built around a team, not just individual greatness. They had 17 different goal scorers last season with their top scoring being defender Nilson Junior with only seven. 

The boss Lee Young-min has been with the side since the start of the 2021 K League season and will look to go into his third season as Bucheon's manager. The board gave Young-min time after 2021, putting it down to a transition period. They were rewarded with a playoff place last year. Lee Young-min will look to further work with his squad to push on even more. 

Keeping the Team Together 

The K League 2 normally sees a lot of teams completely clear out their side year after year. However, it looks as if Lee Young-min's vision is to keep the players that he knows and trusts in the side. The biggest loss for the side in this window is seeing Park Chang-jun temporarily leave the side to fulfil his military duty. The 26-year-old was a shining star in their poor 2021 season and registered six goals for the side last year.  

Some other noticeable departures are Lee Si-heon to Seoul E-Land, as well as Samuel Nnamani and Jorman Aguilar not returning to the squad. It is also interesting to see Kuk Tae-jeong and Song Hong-min move to Seongnam and Gyeongnam respectively. These are two teams that Bucheon will be competing against to gain promotion into the K League 1.
Leandro Kalil will be part of the Bucheon FC 1995 squad for the 2023 season.
There are a few names coming into Bucheon this year which could really push the team forward. The Reds have signed two more Brazilians to make a trio with Nilson Junior. This includes left-winger Gabriel Ramos from Riga and centre-forward Leandro Kalil from São-Joseense. From the K League, Bucheon have brought in Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors goalkeeper Lee Beum-soo and midfielder Song Jin-kyu from Ansan. 

Bucheon has not changed too much in their side this year. They will hope that Leandro Kalil will be able to match the performances of Park Chang-jun in his debut season in Korea. His arrival this year may ask the question, are Bucheon trying to have a target man to produce multiple goals this year? As stated earlier, Bucheon finished fourth, yet did not have a player who scored over seven goals.  A player who can get into double figures for the side would be much welcomed.

Building a Reputation

Bucheon has been a side that has been trying to promote themselves in the K League more and more as each year goes by. They are a club formed after SK Bucheon made the move to Jeju to become Jeju United and they are consistently promoting themselves to be a fan club. They come across as a welcoming side who want the fan experience to be the best it possibly can be in a football stadium. 

With that being said, Bucheon as a team needs to bring attractive football to the league to entice people into the stadium. They did achieve this somewhat last year as they finished so high up on the table. However, they will need to recreate that this year if they are going to continue to build a solid fanbase. Bucheon is not a new club as they were founded in 2007, however, they are starting to build some real momentum in the city of Bucheon and Korea as a whole. 

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Final Thoughts 

It could be an exciting year for Bucheon FC 1995. They played as a team last year and were rewarded with the position they achieved. They have not changed much in their set-up this year, compared to the other teams in the division. However, Bucheon will go with the mentality that, if it isn't broken, don't fix it. 

Lee Young-min will have a lot on his plate this season in the K League 2. Gimcheon Sangmu always show a strong performance as they have the pick of the bunch when it comes to Korean players completing their military duty. There is also Jeonnam Dragons and Busan IPark, who will wish to correct their embarrassing 2022. Gyeongnam will believe they will finally have what it takes to make the jump back up to the top flight and Seoul E-Land has once again invested heavily in their side. 

Bucehon once again will feel like underdogs leading into this 2023 season and they will accept that. They are a side that played with no fear last year and look where it got them. The pressure for the other teams to succeed last year was so high that they saw Bucheon glide by and into a playoff spot. Bucheon fans will hope that this will be the same case for this year or maybe even do one better. 

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