2023 Preview: Can FC Anyang Finally Win Promotion to K League 1?
What happened last season?
FC Anyang came agonisingly close to finally winning promotion to the top flight. After a playoff semifinal appearance in 2019 and K League 2 promotion final in 2021, last year Anyang went further than they had ever been before by reaching the two-leg final with Suwon Samsung Bluewings who had finished 10th in K League 1. The first leg was nervy and, after finishing 0-0, meant the overall tie was still very much on a knife edge heading into the second leg. The second leg went beyond the 90 minutes and was very close to going to penalties.
An Byong-jun gave Suwon a 17-minute lead but Maxwell Acosty made it 1-1 10 minutes after the restart with a goal that looked to be enough to take the game to a shootout. That was until Oh Hyeon-gyu bundled the ball home from close range in the dying embers to make it 2-1 and seal survival for the Bluewings and another season in K League 2 for FC Anyang.
Anyang had finished third in the table with 19 wins, 12 draws, and nine losses. Their 52 goals scored was the fourth best in the league but 41 conceded was the second-fewest.
[READ: What's new in K League in 2023?]
What transfer business has been done over winter?
There have been a number of high-profile exits over the winter. Maxwell Acosty has joined the very club he tried to relegate last October, signing from Suwon Bluewings along with fellow winger Kim Kyung-joong. The vultures of K League 1 didn't stop there either as goalkeeper Jeong Min-ki joined FA Cup winners Jeonbuk to replace the J.League-bound Song Bum-keun.
Ahn Yong-woo from Daegu FC and Jo Seong-jun from Jeju United come in to replace Acosty and Kim Kyung-joong on the wings. Right back Lee Tae-hee joins from Daegu, defensive midfielder Kim Jung-hyun from Busan IPark, and central midfielder Kim Jung-min from Vitória Guimarães SC B who'd had spells with Gangwon and Busan in 2021.
Existing squad and key players
FC Anyang have a good number of defenders who have played in K League 1, hence how they were able to have one of the stingiest defences in the division last year. Baek Dong-gyu, the skipper of the side, and Lee Chang-yong have played close to 200 top-flight games between them. Kim Dong-jin, too, has K League 1 experience, while fellow wingback Joo Hyeon-woo turned out for Gwangju and Seongnam in the top fight between 2015 and 2019. All featured heavily for Kim Woo-hyung last term.
FC Anyang will have a new goalkeeper following the departure of Jeong Min-ki. Park Seong-su, who signed from Daegu in 2021, has the number one jersey but the 26-year-old has only played once for the Violets - a 3-0 FA Cup defeat to Jeju United in last year's Third Round. The last regular run of games Park had was in J3 in 2020, featuring 13 times for FC Gifu, or 41 times for Ehime in J2 in 2017.
In the attacking third of the pitch, Jonathan Moya remains with the club and will be tasked with leading the line for Anyang for the third season in a row. Attacking midfielder Andrigo has also stayed and will be looking to build on the seven goals and four assists from last year. They will be supported by experienced striker Kim Ryun-do who made the switch from Ansan Greeners last year but struggled to make too much of an impact, featuring 30 times for the Violets but failing to score even once.
Style of play, strengths and weaknesses
FC Anyang can be a little slow to get going in games and can lack a bit of urgency, as was evident in the playoff first leg against Suwon. However, this has led to them having one of the best defences in K League 2. With wide players brought in to replace those who've left, the focus will once again be on a front three with Andrigo in support from midfield. However, they will need to be a bit better in front of goal as the Violets' 52 goals last season were 18 fewer than Daejeon and eight fewer than Gyeongnam who finished two places below them.
Realistic 2023 target
Another crack at the playoffs has to be the target for FC Anyang again this term. They have lost some key players but have replaced some with genuine quality. Even more will be expected from Andrigo in what will be his second season in K League after a year of climatisation last term.
[READ: Derbies of K League 2 in 2023]