Preview: Seongnam FC vs Ansan Greeners – Can Seongnam start their K League 2 adventure with a win?
Seongnam FC will play Ansan Greeners in K League 2 on the opening day of the 2023 season, at home. With opening day comes optimism, nervousness, and excitement! Seongnam fans are hoping for a one-and-done season in K League 2 while Ansan Greeners fans are hoping for a better finish than last seasos's 9th place.
Last Season's Résumé
Seongnam had an atrocious season in 2022 with one of the worst defensive displays since the implementation of the relegation/championship groups, with 70 goals conceded in 38 games. If the poor display on the pitch wasn’t enough, the problems off the pitch were even bigger with the owner wanting to part ways with the club.
Ansan, like Seongnam, didn’t have a great 2022 season, finishing 9th in K League 2 only two points away from being last. The Green Wolves had the worst defense in the league with 67 goals conceded in 40 games.
An opening-day match between two teams who had very similar seasons last year surely adds a lot of intrigue to the new season, as both clubs want to improve from last year’s performances. With no COVID-related restrictions for the first time since 2019, it’s expected there will be an increase in attendance, therefore, it’s expected to see a good number of fans in the stands.
Seongnam FC will hold a retirement ceremony for former player Jeon Jong-hyuk who debuted as a singer after his retirement, an event that should increase the atmosphere at Tancheon Sports Complex!
The Magpies had a busy transfer window with a lot of players leaving as well as a good amount coming in. It’s undeniable that Seongnam did become weaker compared to last season after losing such a high number of quality players. Seongnam kept their most promising player, Kim Ji-soo, after Bayern showed interest in acquiring the defender.
The Green Wolves lost key players like Robson Duarte, Asnawi Mangkualam, Anderson Canhoto and Choi Geon-joo, the team´s top goal scorer last season! They adopted an interesting transfer policy, acquiring some young players from K League teams in the winter break, sending a clear message of building the future rather than fully competing now for the playoffs.
What to expect from Seongnam FC
Lee Ki-hyung's favorite formations are the 4-3-3 with a center-attacking midfielder and the 4-1-4-1, it’s expected for him to maintain that preference, especially looking at the players Seongnam has in the squad. Park Sang-hyeok, Moon Chang-jin, and You Ju-an are attacking midfielders who have been bought in the winter break, as for the wings Seongnam has in the squad players like Jung Han-min, Jeon Seong-soo, Park Ji-won, and Shin Jae-won as well as Park Sang-hyeok who can also play as a winger!
To play in a 4-1-4-1 it's necessary to have a defensive midfielder and Seongnam only has one player in the squad who is a natural DM, Lee Sang-min, but Yang Si-hoo can also play the position. Therefore, it´s unlikely to see Lee Ki-hyung opting for the 4-1-4-1 at least in the early stages of the 2023 campaign.
Even though extremely unlikely, it's possible to see Seongnam using a back five because of the full-backs versatility! Kuk Tae-jeong, Kim Jin-rae, Lee Ji-hoon, and Jang Hyo-joon can play in more advanced areas as we have seen in their careers.
With Seongnam not playing a single pre-season match is difficult to make predictions about the starting eleven but the position surrounded with the most question marks is the striker position. With the departure of Mulic to Suwon Bluewings it’s unclear who is the main striker at Seongnam but Lee Jong-ho looks to be the frontrunner to get that starting spot in the opening-day match.
Kim Ji-soo is, without a doubt, a starter for Seongnam in the upcoming season, therefore Seongnam won´t struggle to fulfil the criteria of the U-22 rule whatsoever but Kim Ji-soo and Lee Jun-sang will miss the start of the season for The Magpies with both being called-up to represent South Korea in the 2023 AFC U-20 Cup. What does this mean for Seongnam? Will the Magpies struggle to maintain the levels of quality in the starting eleven?
It's quite the opposite, Seongnam is among the teams who have been granted U-22 rule exemption during the U-20 Asian Cup. With two players being called-up, Seongnam doesn’t need to name any U-22 player in the starting eleven or on the bench while being able to make five substitutes. With this, Seongnam has an advantage over most teams at the begging of the season by being able to name the strongest starting eleven without the disadvantages that come with the U-22 rule.
What to expect from Ansan Greeners
As mentioned before, Ansan Greeners did lose key players in the winter break, but the Green Wolves did acquire a group of players in need of proving themselves and that’s beneficial for the competitive aspect within the squad. As said by fellow columnist Mike Brandon, a reasonable target this season is a mid-table finish with a chance of pushing for the playoffs entering the season´s final third. With that target in mind, a good start against a possible rival for the lower playoffs spots is a must, therefore fans can expect a competitive team with a lot of hunger to improve on last season’s performance!
The last time these teams faced each other was in 2018 with the final result being a 1-1 draw and a draw has been the most common outcome when these teams play against each other.
Seongnam win percentage: 38%
Ansan Greeners win percentage: 13%
Ansan Greeners 0-1 Seongnam
Seongnam 0-0 Ansan Greeners
Ansan Greeners 1-1 Seongnam
Seongnam 1-0 Ansan Greeners
Seongnam 0-0 Ansan Greeners
Ansan Greeners 2-1 Seongnam
Ansan Greeners 0-1 Seongnam
Seongnam 1-1 Ansan Greeners