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Incheon United vs. Suwon FC Preview: Can Incheon start with a win?


Incheon United's season gets underway this weekend against Suwon FC. With limited signings for the home team, but a whole raft of changes for the away team, this game might be earmarked as one that's impossible to predict. Suwon FC have a lot to prove after last year, and they'll look to hit the ground running on the opening day.

Last Year

Last season, Incheon finished fifth in K League 1, narrowly missing out on fourth place and qualification for the Asian Champions League 2. The team had a good season overall and proved that their 2022 finish wasn't a fluke. The season highlights included home and away wins over K League champions Ulsan Hyundai (this year rechristened Ulsan HD), a Champions League double over Japanese team Yokohama F. Marinos, and a dramatic away win over FC Seoul in the summer.

For Suwon FC, the season was a little more difficult. An eleventh-placed finish meant a relegation play-off with K League 2's second-placed team, Busan I'Park. A defeat in the first leg left Suwon staring down the barrel of joining their neighbors Suwon Bluewings in the second division in 2024. Three goals in extra time of the second leg, however, saw the red half of Suwon avoid dropping down. With a new manager in Kim Eunjung at the helm, they'll be looking for a better set of results this year.



What to Watch

Incheon begins the season looking to qualify for continental football next year; however, that will require a top 3 finish or a win in the newly renamed Korea Cup. While incoming signings have been limited, Incheon has seen the departure of Hernandes to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, for a fee in the region of $1m, paid in installments. Additionally, goalkeepers Kim Dongheon and Lee Taehee have been conscripted. Dongheon has moved to newly-promoted Gimcheon Sangmu in K League 1, and Lee Taehee has joined K4 outfit Geoje Citizen.

To replace these goalkeepers, Incheon has signed Lee Beomsoo from Bucheon FC. Beomsoo has previously played for Jeonbuk, Gangwon FC, Daejeon Hana Citizen, and Gyeongnam FC among others. At 33 years old, he'll bring some experience to the backline should he be picked as the starting keeper. Another signing is in the form of the familiar face of Matej Jonjic, who returns to Incheon on a free transfer after eight years away. The Croatian defender spent time at Chinese Super League team Shanghai Shenhua in between spells at Cerezo Osaka in the J.League.

Suwon FC began the season on the back of a tumultuous 2023, which saw them finish second bottom, and concede the most goals in the league. The team has undergone quite a transformation with the likes of Ricardo Lopes, Lars Veldwijk, and others moving on. Crucially, the club has kept hold of Lee Seungwoo and Yoon Bitgaram despite interest from clubs in both K League 1 and K League 2. They have also recruited former Jeonbuk and Gamba Osaka defender Kwon Kyungwon and Gimpo FC's Kim Taehan to bolster their backline. The challenge for new manager Kim Eunjung, in his first-ever K League appointment, will be to get the team firing without the likes of Lars and Ricardo Lopes, while not conceding the volume of goals that they shipped last year.



Who to Watch

Following his return from Vissel Kobe in J.League 1 last year, Stefan Mugosa hasn't featured as much for Incheon as he might have preferred. Having spent much of the winter rebuilding his fitness and recovering from injuries, he has been back among the goals in preseason. Incheon fans will hope that the Montenegrin Maestro is back to his best, and firing on all cylinders.

[Listen: #KLUpod | 2024 K League Opening Round Preview]

Head to Head

  • Incheon and Suwon both have four previous victories in this fixtures.
  • The clubs have shared seven draws.
  • The last three matches have seen two draws and an Incheon victory.
  • Suwon FC's last win was in July 2022, by a score of 1-0 at Incheon's Sungui Arena.
  • Incheon famously beat Suwon on the final day of the 2016 season to secure safety and relegate their opponents.

Where to Watch

The games will be available to stream online at K League TV outside of Korea, and in all the usual places inside.  The game takes place on Saturday 2nd March and kicks off at 16:30 KST.


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