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2019 Season Review: Daegu FC

The 2019 Season will be remembered as the best ever for Daegu FC and its fans with lots of fond memories made in a brand-new football stadium, DGB Daegu Bank Park. K League United Daegu FC Correspondent Muyeol Jung takes this opportunity to have a look back at what will be the most unforgettable season in the club's history.

What Went Well

The 2019 season is undoubtedly the best season Daegu FC have had in the club's history since being established in 2002 as they finished the fifth in K League 1 after making it to FINAL A for the first time. In truth though there were huge concerns over the depth of squad ahead of the season as the citizen club had to fight on three different fronts; K League, AFC Champions League, and FA Cup.

However, unlike the underlying concerns, Andre's side had a fantastic start to the season with stunning performances and never once dropped down to the bottom half of the table during the entire season. Also, fifth is the highest position the club have recorded in its history, it could have been third if they had won their final game of the season.

Also, Andre's men did the fans proud in their first appearance in the AFC Champions League. Although they failed to go through the group stage, and finished third behind Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Guangzhou Evergrande, their performances in the group stage were fascinating enough to spread Daegu's pride with three wins and three defeats.

Daegu FC attracted 203.942 fans to the stadium for 19 K League games this season

Meanwhile, the citizen club had also been at the centre of spotlight in K League thanks to the new football specific stadium which brought the advent of new fan-base and football culture as well as some great performances on the pitch.

During this season, the football club had an average home attendance of 10734 in attendance in K League with nine sell-outs in all competitions including the first ACL home opener against two times AFC Champions League Champions Guangzhou Evergrande. The increase rates in attendance looks even more phenomenal, compared to 3518 on average last season. Also, it is astonishing news that Daegu FC attracted more fans to their games this season than Samsung Lions baseball team (9607 on average) for the first time as the city is widely considered a baseball city.

What Didn't Go Well

Despite their fantastic run throughout the season, the citizen club had some areas that could have been done better. First of all, as expected ahead of the season, the depth in the squad was a big issue. Limited room for squad rotation and a busy fixture schedule made key players get exhausted or injured, while the bench offered little to make a difference.

Also, the lack of plan B was problematic. Daegu's main game plan has been to take a defensive approach with an emphasis on counterattacking in 3-4-1-2 formation since 2018 summer. The strategy worked well until the second half of the season when the other teams found a way to defend against Daegu. Particularly, when the opponents were sitting deep, Andre's men looked unable to break down the opposition's defence.

Young Player of the Year

Daegu FC are viewed as a team that boldly invest in young talent and gaffer Andre would have been under less stress with fielding the team with two U22 players as he has three regular young lads who started almost every game unless injured or suspended; Jung Seungwon, Kim Daewon and Jeong Taewook.

Versatile midfielder Jung Seungwon has been a key figure for Andre's side

Last season was all about young attacker Kim Daewon, but this season saw Jung Seungwon become one of the most important assets for the citizen club. Diligent midfielder Jung appeared 33 times in the league, scoring three goals and without any receiving a single yellow card. The 1997-born player was originally regarded as wing forward, but had a blinder of a season in Andre's counterattacking tactics by playing as either a central midfielder or wing-back. The presence of him certainly gave the gaffer much more flexibility and diversity in options.

Young attacker Kim Daewon also had a good season as key attacking option along with Cesinha and Edgar. Due to a busy fixture schedule and a lack of rotation, he became a bit less sharp toward the end of the season, but what he showed in the first few months proved he is a real talent and fans are looking forward to seeing again him next season. Towering centre back Jeong Taewook also needs to come into the limelight for his massive contributions in defence.

Team MVP

Every single player deserves the title after a fantastic season, but the honour should go to Brazilian star Cesinha considering how influential he has been for Andre's side.

The 2019 season will have meaning to Cesinha as he reached the peak of his career

It's the fourth season the Brazilian has had with Daegu FC in K League and this year saw the Brazilian star gain recognition out of the country following his performances on the continent by playing in AFC Champions League. Unfortunately, Daegu FC had to exit the competition after the group stage, but they were very close to reaching to the knock out stages. In the competition, he had the honour of being selected as the Man of the Match on matchday one after he scored a stunning volley and helped with Daegu's other two goals in a 3-1 win over Melbourne Victory. Also, the Brazilian was named in 2019 K League Best 11 and was one of the nominees for the Best Player of the season in the K League Awards with 15 goals and 10 assists.

Most Disappointing Player

During the summer transfer window, Daegu FC announced the signing of Brazilian winger Rildo for Dario who left the club after only three K League appearances. After the news came out, fans immediately got excited and had high expectations on him because of his CV and the fact the new signing was former teammate of Cesinha back in Brazil. In fact, the grandest welcoming ceremony held at half time dramatically elevated the fans' hopes. However, his spell at Daegu miserably fizzled out with only 11 appearances, mainly as a substitute, due to a failure to adapt to Korean football and also due to injury problems. After the end of the season, the club announced the departure of Rildo through a mutual agreement. In addition, two veterans Jung Seonho and Jeon Hyunchul didn't live up to fans' expectations and hardly broke into the first team squad.

Most Important Decision of the Off Season

Despite the successful achievements, the future for Daegu doesn't look as bright as you might think and it is going to be crunch time for the club if they are going to get back to where they were.

Daegu FC executive director Cho Kwangrae and manager Andre Gaspar need to put their heads together for next season
First of all, Daegu's key players Cesinha and Jo Hyeonwoo will likely leave the club this winter and Daegu need to find replacements if so. The Brazilian has attracted so much interest from other Asian clubs and rumours say he is linked with unnamed Chinese Super League clubs. Also, the club need to make the final decision on Korean international goalkeeper Jo Hyeonwoo who will be a free agent at the end of this calendar year. Jo spoke to the press that he intends to move abroad.

Squad wise, a few more decent signings should be made. Currently, Kim Daewon, Jung Seungwon, and Jeong Taewook are considered regulars in Korea U23 team in preparation for 2020 Tokyo Olympics and they will likely to get involved with the national team if they qualify in AFC Championship Final January 2020. Also, the club urgently need to find two U22 players for the next season.

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