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Suwon Samsung vs. Chungnam Asan Preview: Can Asan cause a shock on Sunday?

After dropping down to K League 2, the Bluewings need to bounce back immediately and can't afford too many slip-ups in a notoriously tricky league. Taking three points from Chungnam Asan on Sunday is imperative. For the visitors, this is a first-ever meeting with Suwon, and a golden opportunity to slay a Korean football powerhouse. The first of many David v Goliath battles facing Suwon this season.



Overview and Match Information

Fixture: Suwon Samsung Bluewings vs. Chungnam Asan FC
Competition: 2024 K League 2 Round 1
Venue: Suwon World Cup Stadium
Date: Sunday, March 3rd, 2024. 14:00 KST.

Suwon Samsung Bluewings begin their 2024 season against unfamiliar opponents in K League 2 for the first time on Sunday. Managed by former player Yeom Ki-hun, Suwon will be under enormous pressure to deliver a good performance and three points at Big Bird. The home supporters haven't gone into full revolt mode just yet, as strong advanced ticket sales precipitated the opening of upper tiers at the World Cup Stadium. That can all change, however, if Chungnam Asan leave Suwon with all three points.

Last year


Suwon Samsung had a disastrous 2023, finishing joint-bottom of the table with just 33 points, but relegated instead of Suwon FC on goals scored. The team's miserable form goes back further and few people in Suwon could claim their demotion was unjust. Four different managers sat in the dugout throughout the season, two on a caretaker basis, and one of them, Yeom Ki-hun, has been handed the job on a permanent basis this season. 

The sickening thing for Suwon's players is destiny was in their own hands heading into the final weekend. After collecting seven points from a possible nine, a victory of any sort against Gangwon FC would have guaranteed their safety for another week, at least. But Suwon never fired a shot and, in reality, they were lucky not to end their season with a defeat in front of their biggest crowd of the year.

Chungnam Asan finished 10th in K League 2, with 12 wins, 6 draws, and 18 losses from 36 games. After week nine, Asan found themselves in the dizzying heights of seventh spot but from that point on, they were never in any position other than 9th-11th. The numbers might not look impressive, but Asan were incredibly hard to break down. Only four of their defeats were by more than a single goal, and 13 matches ended 1-0.

This will be their 5th season as a professional club, but Sunday's game marks the first time Park Dong-hyeok won't be in the dugout. He has moved to Gyeongnam FC to replace Seol Ki-hyeon. Kim Hyeon-seok is the new man in Asan. Kim will need to turn several of those eighteen defeats into draws or victories to have any chance of competing for a playoff spot.

Team news

New Chungnam Asan manager Kim Hyeon-seok planning how take three points from Suwon on Sunday.
Following relegation, there was an exodus from Suwon to other K League sides, notably Ko Seung-beom (Ulsan HD), Kim Tae-hwan (Jeju United), and Kwon Chang-hoon (Jeonbuk Motors). Dave Bulthius, Werik Popo, Rodrigo Bassani (Bucheon FC 1995), and An Byeong-jun (Busan IPark) have also moved on. It was a quiet winter transfer window for incoming players, with most of the recent arrivals seen as wider squad players. The big news was the permanent signing of Japanese midfielder Kozuka Kazuki, which looks like a shrewd piece of business. Kim Hyun has joined from neighbors Suwon FC, and manager Yeom Ki-hun will hope he puts pressure on Fejsal Mulic for a starting spot. Speculation is Maxwell Acosty will be out for a few weeks.

Juninho Rocha swapped promotion-chasing Gimpo FC, where he played 30 times (scoring three goals), for Asan in the winter. Goal scoring was a problem for Asan in 2023, so the midfielder Juninho will be joined by fellow Brazilians Anderson and Nunes Kaina at Yi Sun-sin Stadium. Hwang Ki-wook is a good signing from fellow K League 2 side FC Anyang, where he made 64 appearances in the last two seasons. Hwang should slot straight into Asan's midfield.

Head to Head


Having only been established in late 2019, Chungnam Asan have never faced Suwon Samsung Bluewings in the League or the Cup. Suwon will be playing against a raft of new clubs for the very first time in 2024.

What to watch


Will this be a stroll in the park for Suwon?

Local weather apps are forecasting a high of 8 degrees and partial sunshine for this Sunday 2pm kickoff. The Bluewings have opened the upper tiers of the North and East Stands for this game after selling out the lower sections of the three home sections. There is a great disparity in talent, history, and silverware between these two sides, so if Suwon dominate this game and all before them in K League 2, they can enjoy big crowds even in the second division. However, if results and performances don't match expectations.....

Chungnam Asan will thrive in such a scenario, having proved stubborn opponents in K League 2 last season, despite recording 18 losses. They are rarely well-beaten and will likely come to Big Bird to frustrate and spoil their illustrious hosts. Park Dae-hun, approaching the peak of his career, had his best-ever season in 2023, and Asan's winter recruitment of three Brazilians might ensure they are dangerous in attack. In reality, they don't have the players to win in Suwon, but the longer they keep the Bluewings out, the home fans will become anxious.  

Who to watch


Kim Ju-chan will have the weight of an entire fan base on his shoulders this season.
Kim Ju-chan

Understandably, there are football fans who think this is a wasted year for Kim Ju-chan, playing in the second division when he should be testing himself against the best players in the country. But at 19 years old, Kim will have many seasons in the top flight, either in Korea or abroad. In his debut season, Kim started 22 games, scored five goals, and was on the pitch for 1109 minutes in total. He's far from the finished product, but he has pace, footwork, and can beat opponents one-on-one, so the young winger should thrive in the less-pressurized K League 2. Suwon fans are screaming out for a hero after their annus horribilis, and Kim could be that player. There will be a lot of weight on his shoulders but if Suwon dominate possession and territory, as expected, he'll have the freedom of Suwon to terrorize opposition defenses and drag the Bluewings back to the big time.

Prediction


Suwon Samsung Bluewings 2-0 Chungnam Asan.

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