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Busan IPark Vs Seoul E-Land: The Battle by the Beach

The 2024 K League 2 season is finally upon us, and this year marks a special year for Seoul E-Land. In what will be the club’s 10th anniversary, they will hope to mark the occasion with a memorable season.

The road to glory for the Leopards starts with a tough task as they travel to face Busan IPark for a Sunday afternoon kick-off. After the disaster that was the 2023 season, Seoul will look to shake off the dust and prove to the K League that they finally mean business. Michael Redmond takes a look at this game.

Back to the Future?

These two teams have kicked off the K League 2 season before, in 2021 to be exact. In what was Chung Jung-yong’s second season at the club, Seoul was looking to wipe away the pain of missing out on the 2020 playoffs on the final day of that season.

In what many believed would be a tough task for Seoul, the capital club had other plans by the seaside. After a stalemate first half, the Leopards came out flying in the second. The 57th minute brought the opener for Seoul, and Jang Yun-ho put them ahead. Only nine minutes later, an unlikely goal provider in defender Lee Sang-min doubled E-Land’s lead. The third goal came in the 88th minute from Kim Jung-hwan who played for Busan last year, before his move to Seongnam.

Seoul won the game 3-0 and shook the K League for a short time, winning their first five games of that season. It was just a shame it all went downhill from there.

The Stats Don't Lie

In what was a historic win for Seoul on that day, future games would be seen as too difficult a task for Seoul on most occasions. Since that game in 2021, the two sides have met nine times. Busan claimed six wins against Seoul’s one win and two draws. Busan seems to always get the better of the Leopards when they go head to head and they will hope this continues on Sunday.

Busan lost out on K League 1 promotion due to losing to Suwon FC in the promotion-relegation game last year. They will now have a point to prove this year that they can finally cross that finish line one more time. With that being said, we have seen teams who were in touching distance of promotion in the past have a poor start the following year.

Seoul's Star Power

The story this year in the entire K League was Osmar's move from FC Seoul to the Leopards. A long-time servant of the club, he will now be the man at the back for E-Land. What also makes this more interesting is the FA Cup draw this year, which has now been renamed the Korean Cup.

Seoul E-Land will play the winner of Daejeon Korail and Dangjin Citizen FC. If the Leoaords can progress, then we will see another Seoul derby on our hands.

 Elsewhere, we have seen Peter Makrillos make the move from Chungbuk Cheongju to the capital. Two smart moves in my opinion due to their experience in the K League.

Elsewhere we see left winger Bruno Costa and forward Eduvie Ikoba join the side. Seoul has certainly added firepower to the side and it seems like Seoul has put that extra effort into the transfer market this season. Yes, Bruno, last year was a star, but his power did dwindle towards the end. Here is hoping that the same is not said for the new players of Seoul.

The Busy Busan Boys

Seoul are not the only side to have a productive transfer window. Busan too have boosted their team. The first player to make a note of is Ahn Byong-jun making a return to the club. A striker who has had Seoul’s number so many times in the past, I would have loved to have seen him wear the royal blue of Seoul in seasons gone by.

Another big name brought into the side is Ricardo Lopez. The Brazilian won the K League 1 and ACL with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors after four seasons with the team. He then had a stint in China, Japan, and Ukraine before making his return to Korea to play for Suwon FC last year. With only four goals in his 16 games in Suwon, a fresh start is what may be needed for the forward.

At the back, Busan has signed Mukhammadali Alikulov from Uzbekistan. A relatively unknown player, Alikulov hopes to make his mark in the K League 2.

The Start of a Long Road?

Coming away from the actual game slightly, it is important to note Seoul’s fixtures in these coming weeks.

Looking at the Fotmob graphic below, Seoul does not have an easy start to the year. Add the potential Seoul derby to this too, it really could be over before it’s really begun if the Leopards do not start the season in a promising fashion.
In saying that, the quality of the K League 2 has consistently improved over the years and there certainly aren’t any easy games anymore bar maybe one or two sides.

The issue with Seoul last year was that a lot of players looked like they were not playing for the badge. There were even players who signed with the club who never kicked a ball for the side.

With that being said, looking at Seoul’s social media, the side looks a lot more positive. There looks to be good chemistry with the players and fans will hope that this is replicated on the pitch.

Aniversary Party?

Well, it has been a rollercoaster for Seoul over the last ten years that is for sure. It has to be said there are definitely more lows than highs from the side, but that doesn’t matter. This is a new year and a new Seoul side.

As for me? This will be the first season where I will be watching from afar. It is going to be a strange change not making my way to a K League stadium every week. Instead, I will be tuning into tv.kleague.com every weekend from sunny Pattaya, Thailand. 


With that being said, if a Seoul derby does come up, it is only a five-hour flight from Bangkok to Incheon. It is also important to note that the game would be played over Songkran, a Thai holiday. Which means no work for me that week. Let’s see what happens, shall we…

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