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The Week That Was: Three Takeaways

Only three teams remain unbeaten in both divisions following the weekend's action which saw the first meeting between the top two clubs in K League 1 for the past several seasons as Ulsan Hyundai came out victorious against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.  Jeju United welcomed a legend home after more than a decade overseas, and Bucheon FC 1995 continued their unbeaten start to the year and currently hold on to top spot in the second division.  KLU's Branko Belan looks back at the weekend that was.

Leonardo Decisive as Ulsan Stay Unbeaten

Ulsan Hyundai are now unbeaten in four matches to open the 2022 campaign after picking up an important away win against Jeonbuk Hyundai at the weekend.  In what was an evenly contested match, the visitors walked away with all three points thanks to Leonardo, who scored the only goal of the match in the 40th minute.  The 24 year old Brazilian center forward showed a nice bit of control in the area before shooting across his body with his effort on goal finishing just inside the post.

Coming into the match, Ulsan had only scored four goals in their first three matches.  There were questions as to where the goal production would come from this year following the departures of Oh Se-hun, Lukas Hinterseer, and Kim Ji-hyun (who joined Gimcheon Sangmu for his military service).  Leonardo looked good in his second appearance for the club and will be counted on to be the main threat up top.  A goal so early into his Ulsan spell will do wonders for his confidence as he grows into the Korean game.  Could he follow in the footsteps of Junior Negrão and become another big name at the club?  Time will settle that debate, but fans can be happy to have earned a huge early season win against their bitter rivals.

Bucheon Sit Atop K League 2 After Narrow Victory

Bucheon will be tested in the weeks to come after starting quickly out of the gates.
Bucheon FC 1995 have opened the new season on a three-match unbeaten streak following their 1-0 success against Gimpo Citizen last time out, meaning they have only conceded once since the season began.  They dominated possession but only managed to put four of their twelve total shots on target.  Oh Jae-hyeok scored the only goal of the match less than ten minutes after the restart and Bucheon kept their lines clean to secure all three points at the final whistle.

Their next four matches will present a much greater test, however, as they next go up against Busan IPark.  That match will be followed by dates with ACL-bound Jeonnam Dragons, Gwangju FC, and perennial title favorites Daejeon Hana Citizen.  Bucheon have been known to start well in recent years, only to fall off as each season progressed.  Will things be different this season, or will they once again succumb to the same fate?

They did some good business in the winter transfer window, bringing in the likes of Nilson Junior from FC Anyang, Kim Ho-nam from Pohang Steelers, Samuel Nnamani from Jeonnam Dragons, and Jorman Aguilar from AD San Carlos, all acquisitions who should be able to help the club providing they can both produce and stay healthy.  Is this the season that Bucheon finally turns some heads and challenges for the top half of the league?  Could they challenge for the playoffs?  The promise is there, but with so much failure in recent years, they will have to show they are able to reverse that pattern before thinking of things too far in the long term.

Koo Ja-cheol Returns to Rousing Ovation

Koo could not hide his excitement being back at his first club.
Koo Ja-cheol was introduced to the Jeju United faithful over the weekend as the islanders took on Suwon FC at home, a match that played out to a 0-0 draw.  His contract signing was finally completed and announced last Friday afternoon, and it was evident to all present how much it meant to him as he was presented to the crowd before the match on Sunday afternoon.

"I am so happy to be back with Jeju; I feel as though I am home again after eleven years," he said in an interview.

"I want to lead the club into a good direction in the future and help them to get good results."

He has adopted the number 42, the same number he wore in his rookie season with the club back in 2007.

"Jo Sung-joon already has the number seven, which I also wore during my time with Jeju, so I chose the number 42 to reflect how I started at the club and as a reminder of how hard I had to work in order to get into the team."

He also reflected on the influence of players such as Lee Chung-yong and Ki Sung-yueng making their returns to the K League in recent years.

"I had been following results in the K League for the past ten years.  The three of us have our own chat room and have been keeping in contact.  Eventually, the desire to return continued to get stronger until I finally made the decision to come back," he concluded.
  
FNR

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