2023 Preview: How will Chungbuk Cheongju FC approach K League 2?

Chungbuk Cheongju. One of the new clubs debuting in K League 2 this 2023 season, will be looking to be competitive as they make the jump from semi-professional football to professional football. Like Cheonan City, Cheongju are another side from the K3 League to have their application to join K League 2 agreed by the KFA, but just who are they and how will they do?

New phone, who dis?

New league, new season, new start. Chungbuk Cheongju will be the official name of the club, after formerly going by Cheongju FC up until this season. As well as the name change, they too opted for a rebrand of their club badge and emblem, opting for the more minimalist approach which seems to be in effect more recently in modern football. 

The team will play at the Cheongju Sports Complex, which holds 16,280 spectators and similarly to Cheonan City, have the expectation to improve the stadium, facilities and youth development as per the requirements set by the KFA when awarding them their place in K League 2.

The CEO of Chungbuk Cheongju, Kim Hyun-joo stated the following when talking about their goals as a club, mentioning that “Cheongju, Chungcheongbuk-do, was called a barren land of football. We want to make it a ‘Mecca of football’ with aggressive marketing, city and promotional strategies that approach provincial residents."

How did they do in K3?

Whilst the Cheongju side weren’t necessarily blown out of the water by their opposition in the league, the team did finish 14th out of a possible 16 places. Playing in 30 games across the 2023 season, Chungbuk picked up 30 points, with seven wins, nine draws and 14 losses. Not to mention a -20 GD. They were actually the worst ranked team in terms of goal scored, only registering 21 goals across the season, a clear indicator as to which position they struggled with the most. Relegated Dangjin Citizen scored more. They also had the fifth worst defensive record in the league, conceding 41 goals in 30 games.

Pre-season business 

Whilst not necessarily advertising or promoting their transfer dealings on social media for fans to see. Cheongju have been every active during the off-season. Naturally, with transitioning from being a semi-professional outfit to a professional team, there will be a high turnover in regards to departures and arrivals. K League 2 is a very competitive league, with no necessary certainty for any team, therefore the club have to ensure that they are as prepared as they can be.

Some notable signings have included a plethora of foreign players in the form of 27-year-old midfielder Peter Makrillos from GIF Sundsvall, Malaysian right-winger Kogileswaran Raj from PJ City and 29-year-old Brazilian and free agent Paulinho.

However, the club have also made some very smart and astute signings from within both K League 1 and K League 2, building a solid foundation of experienced players. The team have brought in a mature veteran in the form of Jang Hyuk-Jin from Suwon FC. A player who knows exactly what it’s like playing in K League 2 after stints with Gyeongnam FC and Ansan Greeners. At the other end of the pitch, they have added former FC Seoul centre-back, Kim Won-kyun and Lee Han-saem from Gwangju FC.

But, they have also given an indication of wanting to implement youth into their side with signing of numerous players from both high school and university teams. 

Will they adjust?

It’s always tough to judge how a team will do when they are promoted a division, especially given the circumstances in which Cheongju find themselves in K League 2 on the basis of application as opposed to merit. After all, Cheongju were a club which finished 14th placed out of 16 teams in K3. So, not exactly setting the world alight. However, as mentioned earlier the club has had a revolving door of players coming in and out of the club, and seemingly bringing in the right quality of players to be competitive. 

It can be tough for teams starting from scratch. Players need to time to build cohesion and rapport with one another, a philosophy needs to be ingrained into the club, specific tactics and formations and potential language barriers. Not to mention, a new manager in the form of Choi Yun-kyum.

Yet, that is the purpose of having an off-season and pre-season, to allow teams to figure out what works, what doesn’t work and build up match fitness. Cheongju travelled out to Bangkok, Thailand for their preseason training and looked to have an enjoyable stay if their Instagram posts are anything to go by.

Most will always have the newly promoted teams as those most likely to occupy positions at the bottom of the league and to struggle to the adjustments of a new division. But, as avid K League 2 followers will know, anyone can beat anyone on any given day and a strong start to their 2023 campaign, may well just give them that edge and confidence to be competitive.

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