The Korean professional football K-League, which celebrated its 40th anniversary, breaks its long winter sleep and starts an eight-month long journey.
The K-League 1 2023 season begins in earnest with the Hyundai family confrontation between Ulsan Hyundai and Jeonbuk Hyundai, which will be held at Ulsan Munsu Stadium on the 25th at 2:00 pm. The second division, K League 2, announces the start of the 2023 season with six games to be held on March 1.메이저놀이터
As in last season, 12 teams participate in the K-League 1 this season. The regular league will be held over 33 rounds until early October, and then the split rounds will be held according to the ranking. 1st to 6th place will be divided into Final A, and 7th to 12th place will be divided into Final B, and each team will play 5 more games. In Final A, the winning team and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League participating team are determined, and in Final B, the team that is relegated to the second division is covered.
This season, K-League 1 will be joined by Daejeon Hana Citizen, who achieved dramatic promotion through last year’s K-League 2 winner Gwangju FC and promotion playoffs (PO). Daejeon Hana Citizen will experience K-League 1 for the first time after being re-founded as a corporate club. Instead, Sangmu Kim Cheon, who lost last season to Seongnam FC, the bottom of K League 1, in the promotion PO, is aiming for re-promotion in K League 2.
Fans’ attention is also focused on the championship competition between Ulsan and Jeonbuk. The two teams that competed for the championship in the K-League 1 in recent years are expected to establish a ‘two-river system’ again this year. It boasts a super-luxurious squad that overwhelms the other 10 teams in terms of objective power.
Jeonbuk was an absolute leader in the K League 1, which took the top spot for five consecutive years from 2017 to 2021. On the other hand, Ulsan was pushed back by Jeonbuk and finished runner-up every time. In particular, from 2019 to 2021, they competed to win the championship for three consecutive years, but shed tears.
However, Ulsan stopped Jeonbuk from winning 6 league titles in a row last year and succeeded in winning the championship for the first time in 17 years. Jeonbuk, which missed the championship in six years, had to suffer from strong opposition from fans.
To make matters worse, apart from the championship competition, the feelings of the two teams are not good either. This is because Japanese midfielder Amano Jun (32), who was the main player in Ulsan’s championship last season, was transferred to Jeonbuk, causing noise. Hong Myung-bo (54), Ulsan coach, openly shot Amano, calling him “the worst Japanese player I’ve ever met.” In response, Jeonbuk responded by saying, “There is no problem with Amano’s transfer.”
The battle of nerves between the two teams was revealed at the Media Day held on the 20th ahead of the opening. Ulsan captain Jeong Seung-hyeon (28) said, “I plan to work hard (against Amano).” He was a good friend, but it’s a pity.” It was not an overt provocation, but it was a sniping remark directed at Amano no matter who saw it. Hearing this, Hong Jeong-ho (34), the captain of Jeonbuk, responded, “If Amano gets hit hard, we will respond too,” making the viewers nervous.
Jeonbuk was more active in power reinforcement during the off-season. Jeonbuk brought not only Amano, but also national team midfielder Lee Dong-jun (26), who played for Hertha Berlin in the German Bundesliga. 194cm tall defender Jung Tae-wook (26), who played an active role as a key member of Daegu FC, and Brazilian striker Rafael (31), who has won the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League, were also recruited to strengthen their strength.
In Ulsan, although Amano moved to rival Jeonbuk, most of the main players who won last year are still alive. In addition, Joo Min-gyu (33), former K-League 1 top scorer, joined from Jeju United, and Swedish midfielder Daryan Boyanich (29), striker Gustav Rubiksson (30), and former Japanese national team member Ataru Asaka (31) were recruited. while maintaining power.
Of course, there are also variables. Jeonbuk’s national striker Cho Kyu-seong (25) has a chance of advancing to the European stage during the season. If Cho Kyu-seong is out of the team during the season, the team situation can change rapidly. Barrow (13 goals and 6 assists last season), who left for Al-Ahli (Saudi Arabia), needs to be filled.
The important variable for Ulsan is how to fill the offensive midfield position that Amano left. Boyanic and Asaka, who have newly recruited the creative play that Amano showed, have a big homework to fill.
Other candidates to crack the Ulsan-Jeonbuk Yanggang system include Pohang Steelers (3rd), who have made it to the semifinals in 4 out of the last 5 seasons, Incheon United, who achieved the club’s best result last season (4th), and former national team player Koo Ja-cheol. (34) and Jeju United, which boasts brilliant members, are cited. In addition, FC Seoul, where Ki Seong-yong (34) is still alive and national striker Hwang Eui-jo (32) has newly joined, and Gangwon FC, where ‘K-League Divine’ Yang Hyeon-jun (21) is growing rapidly, are also noteworthy candidates for a blast.