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2023 Preview: Can Daegu FC Become The Sensations of K League Again?

Newly-appointed manager Choi Wonkwon and his team Daegu FC are looking to get things right this season from the start after the Sky Blues had a stumbling campaign. K League United's Daegu FC correspondent Muyeol Jung previews what will be the first season with the new leadership from manager Choi Wonkwon.

What happened last season?


It was the one that everyone involved with Daegu FC wants to forget, but the one they should never forget if they don't want to see the same thing happen again. Ahead of the 2022 season, Daegu FC were ambitious to compete in the title race under Brazilian manager Alexandre Gama, however, their season got off to the completely wrong start. The Sky Blues never found their momentum and went off the edge of the cliff. It certainly looked like they were about to plunge. However, it was a quite miracle that took place that assistant coach Choi Wonkwon took the role and rescued his side to finish eighth in the end.

Notable changes

Daegu's transfer window began with the news that Edgar returned to Daegu healthy and strong. The towering centre forward is now in a second spell with the Sky Blues after he had to leave the club after picking up an Achilles tendon rupture in 2022 ACL playoff. Joining him, Lucas Barcelos and Marcos Serrato also signed with the citizen club. Daegu also brought Kim Gangsan in to bolster their defence following the departure of Jeong Taewook, Kim Wooseok, and Park Byunghyeon.

In
  • FW Edgar da Silva as free agent
  • DF Kim Gangsan from Bucheon FC 1995 (K League 2)
  • FW Kim Youngjun from Pocheon Citizen (K3 League)
  • FW Lucas Barcelos from Centro Sportivo Alagoano (Brazil)
  • CM Marcos Serrato from Criciúma Esporte Clube (Brazil)
  • GK Lee Junhee from Jinju Citizen (K4 League) (served his military duty on loan)

Out
  • DF Jeong Taewook to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
  • DF Kim Wooseok to Gangwon FC
  • DF Park Byunghyeon to Suwon FC
  • MF Ahn Yongwoo to FC Anyang
  • MF Lee Taehee to FC Anyang
  • FW Zeca (out of loan contract) to Pohang Steelers
  • FW Jeong Chi-in to Gimcheon FC (on loan)


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Big questions

Is Choi Wonkwon the right man to take Daegu to where they belong to?

Former caretaker Choi Wonkwon is now handed the post thanks to the heroic work he did last season. The Seoul-born man, who also played for FC Seoul during most of his professional career, is now becoming a Sky Blues legend not only for the work he did last season but also for the time and commitment he has devoted to the club.

The 41-year-old first came to Daegu in the summer of 2013 as a player on a loan and no one could see his journey unfold this long with Daegu back then. Since he came back to Daegu in the summer of 2014, he has gone through every position in the club's pyramid from player to reserve team manager, coach, and assistant coach. Thus, his understanding of the club and the club's football is undoubtedly excellent. In addition, apparently, his leadership in the squad is influential on and off the pitch.

Given the situation and his commitment, the appointment makes a lot of sense. However, it should be noted that this is his first job as a manager and this actually could turn out to be a gamble for the club. In the oncoming season, the boss really needs to prove the doubters wrong with results.

Rebuilding the defence

Another task that the gaffer has to deal with as a matter of urgency is the defence. The defensive structure, which had been firmly built on since 2019, is now completely gone following the loss of key defenders and is to be rebuilt. In the oncoming season, Hong Jungwoon and Kim Jinhyuk are still likely to play a pivotal role at a back three along with new signing Kim Gangsan.

Brazilian quintet to succeed?


It is no longer a surprise that the Sky Blues have a soft spot for Brazilian players and have massive Brazilian influence in the squad. The club has become the first to fill its five foreign spots by bringing in Edgar da Silva, Marcos Serrato, and Lucas Barcelos to join up with the existing duo Cesinha and Daniel Penha.

In fact, finding a reliable third foreign player has been a pain in the neck for the Sky Blues. Edgar and Cesinha have been always reliable assets since their arrivals, while the third Brazilian has never been any good and had to return home in a disappointing manner; Dário Júnior and Rildo in 2019 failed to adapt to Korean football.

So far, it seems that Marcos Serrato and Lucas Barcelos are settling down well in the new club with help from their fellow countrymen. For this new season, these two new signings will be instrumental in the club's success, while Daniel Penha is expected to return from injury in April at the earliest. In the long-term, they could be the successors of Edgar and Cesinha as the duo are getting old.


FNR


Realistic target for 2023 season 

During the pre-season press conference, the boss said that the primary goal is to make the top six group before they will further pursue an ACL place for next season. Their primary target appears to be realistic for the club as the mid-table fight in the league is very intense and often ends up being decided by a narrow margin. However, this will heavily hinge on how quickly the foreign signings can be integrated into a team as well as key decisions the unexperienced-boss will make throughout the season.

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