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Season Review: Daejeon Hana Citizen

A look back on what was, in all, a disappointing 2020 Hana 1Q K League 2 season for Daejeon Hana Citizen. The Purples finished fourth and were knocked out of the playoffs in controversial fashion. Following a big-money takeover, expectations were high but, ultimately, the Purples face another season in the second tier.

What Went Well

It's hard to pinpoint what actually did go well for Daejeon this past season. After being taken over by Hana Financial Group expectations were high. Injury problems meant that the team was always somewhat hamstrung. In all honesty, nothing went well. Daejeon reached the playoffs, a huge step forward from second-bottom in 2019 but they should have made it to the final. Citizen can feel hard done by, but really nothing went well and it was a season of bad luck.

What Didn't Go Well

Anything that could go wrong for a team did go wrong for Daejeon in 2020. They had injuries to key players such as Kim Dong-jun (dislocated shoulder), Lee Woong-hee (long-term ankle problem), Connor Chapman and Lee Ji-sil (both suffered pelvic injuries) and then there was the drink-driving fiasco and Park In-hyeok was banned for 10 matches. Another unnamed player then tested positive for COVID-19 and the season was delayed by two weeks. There are mitigating circumstances but, ultimately, the Purples finished 21 points behind Jeju and 15 behind Suwon FC and face yet another season in K League 2.

Clearly, Hwang Sun-hong and Heo Jung-mu didn't work well together. Hwang was sacked too early and his replacements didn't have the desired effect. If there was a new manager bounce effect when Cho Min-gook was appointed then it was a slow burner and wasn't felt until it was too late. 

Young Player of the Year

Lee Ji-sol


For the second year running, Daejeon's young player of the year award would have to go defender Lee Ji-sol. No player aged 22 or under played started anywhere near as many games as Lee did with 21. Lee Jong-moon played 21 times but only 13 were as starts. Lee has matured since he first broke into the team in 2018 and, when fit, is one of the first names on the team sheet. Had Lee Woong-hee have been fit for the whole campaign, slotting in along side Lee Ji-sol at the heart of the Purples' defence, it might have been a different story. But, the former Suwon Bluewings youngster ranked fourth in K League 2 for slide tackles, in the top ten for blocks, tackles and aerial duals and top 20 for clearances. Lee is a promising player and is still only 21.

Team MVP

André Luis



He blew hot and cold and wasn't always a team player but he was a match-winner and the team's top scorer with 13 so it would be hard to look past André Luis has Daejeon's MVP. He is very direct and aggressive and so Daejeon fans always knew that if he is on the pitch, the Purples had a chance of scoring. His goals accounted for 14 points in terms of turning defeats into draws or draws into wins - the difference between finishing 4th or 9th. In K League 2, the 23-year-old ranked 8th for shots, fourth for shots on target and seventh for shots made in the box.

Expected More

Bruno Baio



After scoring 10 goals in 16 appearances for Jeonnam last term, it is perhaps safe to say that more was expected from Bruno Baio. The Brazilian scored four times in the league, should perhaps have been five over all had it not been for VAR. He played 20 times, 15 from the start but completed the full 90 minutes just 11 times. Baio began to link up well with Edinho and André and contributed in Daejeon's build up play - his work away to Jeonnam and the two assists in the 3-0 win over Anyang were evident of that. But he was brought to Purple Arena to score goals and just simply didn't live up to expectations. With his contract up it is unlikely that he will be seen in a Daejeon shirt again. 

Most Important Decision of the Off-Season

There are a lot of opportunities for Daejeon moving forward. The Purples appointed a new manager well before pre-season is due to start which bodes well. Lee Min-sung will most likely have an idea of how he wants to play so recruitment has to be done properly over the winter. Daejeon have a good core of players and with Kim Dong-jun, Connor Chapman, and Lee Woong-hee full fit for the whole season will make a huge difference. But, without a striker who can get 15 goals or more, and an attacking midfielder to link up with the attack, Daejeon might find life difficult. With Lee Min-sung taking up the position at Purple Arena following a spell as Korea U23 assistant, perhaps a focus on young, hungry players might be the way forward.

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