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Preview: Hong's new-look Ulsan Hyundai take on Gangwon FC in opening round

Ulsan Hyundai will begin life under their new manager, Hong Myung-bo, when they take on top-half hopefuls Gangwon FC this Monday afternoon at Munsu Football Stadium. Hong, the former Korean national team manager, will be taking charge of a K League match for the first time in his storied career. Can his new-look side get off to a winning start in front of the home fans? Dan Croydon has the preview.

All eyes will be on the team sheets in the run-up to kick-off with several high profile signings ready to make their debut in the Horangi's famous blue strips. Austrian striker Lukas Hinterseer looks set to lead the attack for the first time, aided by promising winger Lee Dong-jun, signed from relegated side Busan I-Park. Another star signing, Vako Qazaishvili, will miss out though as he is still under quarantine.

This will be the Ulsan faithful's first opportunity to congratulate the team since they returned from Qatar with the AFC Champions League trophy. In particular, fans will be hoping to see the MVP from that tournament, Yoon Bit-garam, in the starting eleven. Yoon has been repeatedly linked with a move to the Chinese Super League during this transfer window, but his inclusion on Monday may be a sign that that interest has died. 

[LISTEN: KLU Pod |2021 Awards and Table Predictions ]

Munsu Stadium will be open to a 25% capacity crowd
The visitors have also made plenty of changes to their squad during the off season. Manager Kim Byung-su has opted to add several foreign players to Gangwon's all-Korean squad from last year.

Reliable Uzbek defender Rustamjon Ashurmatov has joined after two standout seasons with Gwangju FC, shadow striker Masatoshi Ishida has come in after helping Suwon FC to promotion, and the relatively unknown striker Vladimir Silađi has made the move to Korea from Bačka Topola of the Serbian Super Liga. All three players could make their debuts as the Bears look for only the second opening round away win in the club's history.

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The record books do not bode well for the visitors though. Ulsan currently boast a seventeen-match unbeaten run against Gangwon, winning the last six in a row in all competitions. But with a new manager in the Horangi dugout and several key changes to the team, this may be exactly the right time for Kim Byung-su's men to face last year's K League 1 runners-up. 

Match details:

Ulsan Hyundai vs Gangwon FC (Hana Bank K League 1, Round 1).

Venue: Munsu Football Stadium, Ulsan

Kick off: Monday, March 1st 2021, 14:00 KST

Where to Watch: Fans in the 34 countries with overseas broadcasting rights will be able to follow the match live on television. Alternatively, there is the K League's online OTT platform, K League TV, where live coverage will be available free of charge.

For a summary of the first round of K League 1 fixtures, click here.

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