2023 Preview: Can Gimpo FC improve on their 2022 K League 2 debut season?

This 2023 season marks Gimpo FC’s second consecutive year in K League 2 and a season in which they will be looking to build on their eighth-place finish. Just how will coach Ko Jeong-woon line his lads up this season, will their philosophy, style of play or tactics change, how will they stand out amongst the new teams in the division and maybe, just maybe is there a chance of promotion for the Citizens?

How did Gimpo perform last season?

The Citizens got off to a great start in their debut K League 2 season, winning three of their first four games in the league. For the first two weeks of the 2022 season, Gimpo were in fact first in the table after winning 2-1 over Gwangju FC with only ten men and then beating Jeonnam Dragons 2-0 before dropping down to fourth, second and then fourth again. However, from this point, things slowly began to curtail and Gimpo struggled to find rhythm, consistency and categorically discipline. As for two consecutive weeks in games against Ansan Greeners and Daejeon Hana Citizen, Gimpo found themselves going down to ten men. They actually played with only ten players on seven occasions across the season and racked up a staggering 81 yellow cards in those 40 games. There was not one game where a Gimpo player was not carded.

As well as issues with discipline, there were also signs of struggle at both ends of the field. They were joint first for the worst goal scoring record in the league, managing 39 goals across the season and were the second worst team for goals conceded, with Gimpo's keeper having to pick the ball out of his net 65 times.

It is worth mentioning that Gimpo FC were one of the only teams besides Chungnam Asan to have no foreign players. They did have Bosnian forward Luka Juričić and Japanese midfielder Mitsuru Maruoka for a little while, but both left mid-season, only playing seven and six time respectively.

What has their transfer business been like over the off-season?

The Citizens have been quite active over the winter period, seeing a plethora of players coming and out of the club. One player which they have brought in is 26-year-old attacking midfielder and Uruguayan, Pablo González from Liverpool FC. Yeah, not that Liverpool. Liverpool FC in Uruguay. 

They have brought in centre-backs Kim Min-ho and Kim Jong-min from from Ansan Greeners and Jeju United respectively, right-back Bae Jae-woo has joined from Seoul E-Land and 22-year-old right-back Song Jun-seok has transferred to the team from Gangwon FC. They also added some K League 1 experience in Jeonbuk Hyundai midfielder Jang Yun-ho. Then just on Wednesday, Gimpo announced the signing of Colombian forward Luis Mina from CD Macara

Naturally as well, the club has had a plethora of players leave the club following on from a difficult season, with no real big-name players leaving the side. Although experienced goalkeeper Kim Keun-bae has joined K League 1 side Jeju United, whereas defender Cho Hyang-ki and right-back Kim Soo-beom have both joined fellow K League 2 clubs Gyeongnam FC and Jeonnam Dragons.

Who do they have in their current squad which are or could be key players?

New signing Luis Mina from CD Macara looks like he could be pivotal in Gimpo's second season in K League 2. Gimpo were the joint-worst in the division for goals scored, scoring 39 goals in 40 games. Mina had seven goals and two assists for CD Macara in 14 appearances and when at Deportes Quindio, he had 13 goals and four assists in 54 appearances.

Son Suk-yong was a shining light in what was a turbulent season for Gimpo, getting eight goals and seven assists across the season. Perhaps with new signing Mina, the two can link up well together, as Gimpo have played with a 3-4-3 and 4-4-2 formation, meaning the coach does not have to pick one over the other.

Kim Jong-suk is another player that the Citizens have thankfully held onto the 28-year-old right winger and will be one to keep an eye on this season.

Whereas the stalwart, Yun Min-ho has also remained at Gimpo and will prove vital to the side as they look to rebuild. Considering he is classed as a defensive midfielder, eight goals and two assists for 2022 is an incredible return.

Gimpo's captain for the season will be Lee Sang-wook. Whereas Choi Jae-hoon and Kim Min-ho will be vice captains.

Gimpo’s kits for the 2023 season

So, how will Gimpo FC do this season?

Anything can be better than last season, right? When reading the above comments on Gimpo's 2022 season, you may be sceptical to believe they could do well and you wouldn't entirely be wrong. However, it is worth noting that this was a team which were ground-breakers or 'Guinea pigs' in some sense, due to them being the first team to join K League 2 from a lower division, ever. 

Gimpo were in fact only founded ten years ago and were a semi-professional outfit that started in what was the fourth tier of the Korean football pyramid in the previously named K3 Challengers League. It was always going to a difficult season for Gimpo and a period of persevering in order to gain important experience and take the lessons learned into this 2023 season. The signings they have made, indicate that Gimpo have noted the areas in which they were weak and with having one season of K League 2 under their belt, they will have some idea as to what to expect.

During pre-season, Gimpo played against K League 1 side Daegu FC and lost a respectable 2-0 against the sky blues and even had a friendly match against the Icelandic National Team, although that game was played behind closed doors and the result is unknown.

Gimpo FC will face K League 2 new boys Cheonan City in the opening match of the 2023 season, in what will be a very interesting match for both parties.

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