2023 Preview: Can Seongnam FC Return To The Top Flight Of South Korean Football?


Seongnam FC got relegated last season in a year full of chaos, on and off the pitch, with underwhelming performances as well as ownership problems. With being relegated comes the difficulty to retain the best players at the club. After losing the squad's core, can Seongnam fight their way through the K League 2 and return to South Korea's top flight?

After being relegated, Seongnam lost the best players in the squad including Yeon Je-woon, Palacios, Kim Min-hyeok, Park Soo-il, and Lee Si-young just to name a few. With that in mind, it would be impossible for the Magpies to have a great transfer window but, with Lee Ki-hyung as the coach, Seongnam has a clear player profile to go after. Players with a vast international experience at different levels, either young players or players entering the prime years of their careers.
Lee Ki-hyung also gave five objectives for the team, one of them being the fight for promotion, which was clear after the statement of the newly promoted captain, Shim Dong-woon.

The atmosphere around the club is much better than last season with the ownership problem well behind now, it seems. The owner, Shin Sang-jin, held a dinner with the entire coaching staff, youth coaching staff, and players. Shin Sang-jin used this opportunity to ask for a special commitment from the players and coaching staff to show that Seongnam FC is still alive. With this dinner, the intention of promotion from the club is clear, which is good news for everyone attached to the Magpies!

With the clear pattern in the transfer window and with the statements of the coach, captain, and owner we can assume that Seongnam is ready to fight for promotion, but Seongnam isn't fighting alone. Does Seongnam has the quality within the squad to overpower the lights of Gimcheon Sangmu, a well-reinforced Jeonnam Dragons and last season promotion contenders Anyang, Bucheon, and Gyeongnam?

Seongnam Squad:


Kim Young-kwang
Choe Pil-soo
Joung Myung-jae (U22)

Center Backs:

Kim Hun-min (U22)
Kang Eui-bin
Kim Ji-soo (U22)
Kim Hyun-tae
Yang Si-hoo
Jo Sung-wook
Patrick Flottmann

Full Backs:

Kuk Tae-jeong
Kim Jin-rae
Lee Ji-hoon
Jang Hyo-joon


Jang Young-gi (U22)
Yang Tae-yang (U22)
Yu Sun (U22)
Park Hyeon-bin (U22)
Lee Sang-min
Park Tae-joon
An Jin-beom
Kwang Soon-hyung
Shin Jae-won
Park Sang-hyeok
Lee Jae-won
Shim Dong-woon
Moon Chang-jin
You Jun-an


Kim Won-joon
Jeon Seong-soo
Jung Han-min (U22)
Jung Seok-hwa
Park Ji-won


Lee Jong-ho
Lee Jung-min
Lee Jun-sang (U22)

With a lot of players leaving and coming in it will take some time for the players to gel with each other, therefore, it’s expected fans will see a slow start for Seongnam, especially looking at the 2023 schedule. The Magpies will face Asan, Bucheon, and Anyang in the first five rounds. with every single one of those teams finishing in the top six last season in K League 2 and are, most definitely, looking forward to starting the season well to fight for promotion once again.

One thing that Seongnam has within the squad is experience, especially at the international level, a slow start might not be as bad looking at the bigger picture, players like Kim Young-kwang, Kwon Soon-hyung (former captain), and newly promoted captain Shim Dong-woon can keep the group together throughout the expected tough first couple of rounds.

Even if Seongnam starts the season on a low, they still can be contenders and they have the quality to finish the season in a playoff position. In the playoffs, the experience within the squad will come in handy, reaching the Promotion-Relegation playoffs is very much possible. Facing 10th place in K League will prove a difficult task for Seongnam FC, who might not have the quality to beat a K League team.

Staying one more season in K League 2 might be good for Seongnam since the young players at the club could benefit from the increased playing time. The worst thing that could happen to the Magpies is becoming a yoyo club between divisions. That would be disastrous for the sleeping giant that is Seongnam FC.

Tactical Shape Preview

Lee Ki-hyung has been an Assistant coach for the majority of his career but he did have two spells as a manager, one with Incheon in 2017/2018 where he used the 4-1-4-1 the most as well as the attacking 4-3-3. The other spell was at Busan IPark as a caretaker Manager in 2020 where he used the attacking 4-3-3 in the four games he coached.

Looking at the background of the manager and the players in the squad is expected for Seongnam to use the 4-3-3 with a Center Attacking Midfielder or even a formation with a back five since every single one of the fullbacks at the club can play as wingers.


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