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2024 Season Preview: Can Daegu FC Reach the ACL place?

Daegu FC are going to welcome their eighth season in the top flight since their return to K League 1 in 2017 and are looking to get back to the Asian Champions League with the momentum they gained last season. K League United's Daegu FC correspondent Muyeol Jung previews what lies ahead of Daegu FC and manager Choi Wonkwon in the 2024 season. 

Last Season

13W-14D-11L, 6th place in the table

What Happened?

A top six finish in the 2023 season is generally viewed as a successful season for Daegu FC that was led by a rookie manager Choi Wonkwon in his first full time post. On their journey, the first round robin was not as smooth as they would have hoped for, but soon after they were able to hit the ground running by playing what they are good at - counter-attacking football upon a solid defence. It was very positive that they kept on building on the momentum towards the end of the regular season, although they couldn’t do much better in Final A.

[READ: Daegu Manager Choi Wonkwon looks back on his first full season]

Notable Moves

  • MF Kyohei Yoshino from Yokohama FC
  • DF Ko Myeongseok from Suwon Samsung Bluewings
  • FW Jeong Jaesang from Dankook University
  • MF Son Seungmin from Yeongdeungpo Technical High School
  • MF Kwon Kwangdeok from Daegu Hyunpoong High School (Daegu Youth)

  • DF Hong Jungun to Daejeon Hana Citizen
  • MF Lee Jinyong to Gimcheon Sangmu (on loan)
  • DF Jo Jinwoo to Gimcheon Sangmu (on loan)
  • DF Yoo Jiwoon to FK Čukarički (on loan)
  • FW Lee Keunho (retired)
  • MF Kim Heeseung to Busan IPark
  • MF Keita Suzuki (end of contract)
  • GK Lee Junhee to Ansan Greeners (end of contract)

[READ: Lee Keunho "Overwhelmed by incredible support" after ending 20-year playing career]

Key Player 

MF Kyohei Yoshino

Daegu’s talisman Cesinha returns healthy after rib and knee injuries forced him to end the season earlier last season and I have no doubt about him being influential for Daegu this season. So I’d like to pick another player that I want to draw your attention to. It’s new signing Kyohei Yoshino.

You may find it surprising, but he is the sort of player that Daegu FC had been looking for a while. Interestingly, the former Yokohama midfielder being a Daegu player seems meant to be as he had a long history of playing against the Sky Blues in three different seasons when he was playing for Sanfrecce Hiroshima and one of which was in the 2019 Asian Champions League. The 1994 year-born player can play in midfield as a box-to-box midfielder and as a centre-back. Reportedly, the manager was satisfied with his performances and there were genuinely positive voices about his play from the squad during pre-season. So it would be interesting to see how he can contribute to Daegu’s game as a versatile player.

Young Player to Watch

MF Park Sejin

It would be a fantastic season for young midfielder Park Sejin who netted one time with an assist in 33 league games in his professional debut season. He still has some room to improve, however what he offered to the club is very promising. He quickly became a new shift for Daegu in the midfield thanks to his attacking ability. The 2004 year-born midfielder shone most in the attacking area with creativity and aggression, while other Daegu midfielders were mostly defensive like Lee Yongrae and Lee Jinyong.

Despite having a brilliant season, this season is going to be competitive for him as Kyohei Yoshino was brought in to play in midfield. Regardless, the Korean youngster is likely to get some regular game minutes at least due to the enforcement of U22 rules.

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Biggest Question 

Can Daegu outperform other teams to qualify for the Champions League?

During last season, there were negative views on Choi Wonkwon’s credibility as a full time manager as soon as the Sky Blues looked to be drifting, however he confounded his critics in the end after demonstrating with the results.

Since returning to top flight in 2017, Daegu FC have been well-known for their counter-attacking football with the combination of Brazilian duo Edgar and Cesinha, and it has been proved well-working and fatal even though the opposition teams are aware of it and prepared.

This season, the manager makes it clear that he would like to bring the club back to Champions League football in his second year in charge and repay the fans. He drops hints in interviews that he and his coaching staff are working hard to upgrade Daegu’s counterattack to the next level. Therefore, a similar style of football is going to continue.

However, things are not looking great for manager Choi and Daegu. While other teams appear to have done some successful business during the off-season or have proven managers appointed like Kim Hakbum at Jeju and Kim Gidong at Seoul, Daegu’s squad looks relatively weak with a lack of depth in the squad. Therefore, it is going to be another challenging season, fighting for the top six.

How would they cope with depth in the squad?

The depth in the squad is not a new matter at all, but has been an issue every year for the citizen club. However, the club has managed to overcome it through collective efforts and the introduction of some youngsters and this will be the case this season again.

Daegu’s expected starting XI might look strong and stable on paper, but it is true that the club has poor services from the bench. For example, Kim Jinhyuk, Kim Gangsan and Ko Myeongseok are likely to play at the back three, but there are no experienced defenders on the bench. So, if either is suspended or sidelined, the inexperienced Lee Wonwoo is likely to start or Japanese midfielder Yoshino could drop down to the defence. Also, there is a chance that defender Kim Gangsan could leave for Sangmu (military service) this summer.

In attacking-wise, the Brazilian duo Edgar and Cesinha is going to play another season together in a Daegu shirt, but they tend to spend time off the pitch, injured every season and their age is a big concern. Thus, we could see some youngsters play in their positions and some of whom are likely to be Kim Youngjun, Jeong Jaesang and Son Seungmin. It wouldn’t be an understatement that Daegu’s success is largely reliant on how well those youngsters would do when brought in.

Can Daegu Sign Bobsin on a permanent deal?

A Brazilian midfielder Bobsin (as registered as Bertola with the league) joined Daegu FC in the 2023 summer on loan from C.D Santa Clara in Portugal and has fast become one of the most beloved Daegu players thanks to his performance and commitment on the pitch. He was truly a saviour for Daegu FC to turn things around through the summer of 2023 when the club were struggling.

Apparently, the manager and the club are satisfied with the Brazilian midfielder and are working hard to sign him on a permanent deal, but his market value has soared beyond Daegu’s budget. If Daegu lost the midfielder this summer, it would be a significant disaster for the club, costing their stability and creativity in the game.

Reason to Watch 

Daegu FC have arguably the best football stadium with the most electric atmosphere in the K League. The citizen club had been far away from being one of the most well-supported clubs until they moved to the current new ground, DGB Daegu Bank Park that opened in 2019. The club saw the record sell-out crowd last season with 11 times out of 19 home games. It’s down to their dynamic football, a convenient location and fan-friendly environments around the ground. Why not come and enjoy the match day experience at Daegu?

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