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2024 Season Preview: Is This the End of the Trail for Ansan?

 

With 2023's lowest wage bill meetng a further budget cut for the 2024 season, the Green Wolves of the Wa look set for an even more difficult year. With off-field issues, is this the last howl for this patched together team?

Last Season

6 W- 7 D- 23 L, 12th

What Happened?

Off-field scandal and on-field calamity made 2023 a painful season for Ansan fans. Lim Jeong-heon was relieved of his managerial duties but it would Ansan without a permanent manager for a quarter of the league season and eventual replacement Lim Kwan-sik could do little to turn fortunes arund at the Wa Stadium. The Green Wolves eventually finished second from bottom, avoiding the ignomy of coming bottom with an inspired final day win at Seongnam. Promising Brazilian import played against Ansan in that game, having started the season scoring in the very stadium as an Ansan player, a situation that captures Ansan's chaotic season in a nutshell.

[READ: 2023 Asan Greeners Season Review]

Notable Moves

In what has become a familiar pattern in recent seasons there is much change at Ansan, in particular many key players from 2023 have departed. Top scorer Yun Ju-tae (Nine goals) has moved to Gyeongnam, while Jeong Ji-yong, one of the team's most creative players last season has moved to the K1 with Gwangju.  Adding to the goal-scoring theme, Kim Kyeong-jun who had the most assists last season (5) has moved to Gimpo. Thiago Henrique has also seen his two season stint come to an end after being largely frozen out by Lum Kwan-sik.

On the positive side, the Green Wolves have retained the services of talismanic captain Lee Seung-bin, who has been consistently one of the top shot-stoppers in the K2 for the past few years, and Kim Beom-su also remains,with his loyal base of travelling fans. Two of Ansan's highest-profile signings have been goalkeepers Lee Jun-hee from Daegu, and Joo Hyeung-seo from Seoul E-land which may raise eyebrows given that this is the one position that the Green Wolves have covered, however, the early retirement of Kim Sun-woo would explain this. Ansan have attempted to cover their defensive and attacking frailties with raids on Seoul Jungang for Lee Ji-seong and Sim Tae-woong respectively but there is perhaps too much expectation on players making the jump from K4 to K2, however, Choi Han-sol managed this when moving from Geoje Citizen last summer. However, The biggest coups have come from fellow K2 sides, with 21 year-old Yang Se-young joining from Busan, and Lee Ji-seung from Gyeongnam.

Key Player 

Kim Beom-su

Creative if frustrating to watch, Beom-su has a loyal travelling fan base and quick feet that will need to have more of a killer instinct this season if Ansan are to get goals. At 23 years-old this feels like the season that he will finally break out and potentially get another shot in the K1.

Kim Beom-su in pre-season training.

Young Player to Watch

Son Jae-hee

The Ansan youth player moved to the German fifth tier last summer, scoring four times in 15 appearances for SV Hemelingen. He should get plenty of opportunities to put we he has learnt from his European stint into practice with the side needing to replace the loss of the majority of their sources of goals.

Biggest Question 

Can the team survive?

Rumours around the situation at the club do not paint an optimistic future for the Green Wolves, and a further reduced budget will likely result in an even more troubled season on the pitch than last. 2023 started so promisingly with a relatively decent attendance of over 4,000. Demonstrating support for the team may be even more crucial than what happens on the pitch with the club in dire need of income streams. Ansan is a big city, but who will turn out to watch a struggling team?
 
Lim Kwan-sik will have to find an answer to Ansan's on-field struggles.
 

Reason to Watch 

There will be goals, and lots of them. 10 of Ansan's games last season had five or more goals, including a 3-7 drubbing at home to Gimcheon, and a thrilling last-minute winner in a 4-3 ding-dong in Mokdong.


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