On the face of it, it hasn’t been the best of close seasons for Incheon. 2006 was a disappointment after 2005’s runners-up spot and the departure of players like Kim Chi-woo and Kim Han-won won’t help. With Jang Woe-ryeong spending a year studying in England,it remains to be seen what new, temporary coach Park I-cheon is made of.
Incheon are one of those teams who could just as easily spend the season fighting to finish above Gwangju at the bottom or Seongnam at the top. It is more likely though that they will finish no higher than mid-table. The team struggled to score last season and will probably do so again next time around unless Dzenan Radoncic reverts back to his sharp 2005 self and not the lazy 2006 version.
Key Player: Radoncic
Last season: Ninth
Next season: Eighth
2006 wasn’t a bad season at all for Daegu. The Togel club had the second best record of all 14 teams away from home and if it wasn’t for the second worst home record then they would have easily finished in the play-offs.
Fourth place in the second stage came on the back of six goals from midfielder Oh Jang-eun. Unfortuantely, he has made the short trip to the south-east coast and Ulsan. Two new Brazilians will be on display – Luis Carlos Fernandes and Maximiliano Carlos Estevez- but as anybody who follows the K-League knows, it is impossible to predict what form of samba the new boys will bring.
Key Player: Hwang Yoen-seok
Last season: Seventh
Next season: Ninth
It is ten years since the K-League trophy last resided in the second city. Andy Egli is about to embark on his first full season in charge but despite his work ethic, it is unlikely that the team has the firepower to trouble the big boys – a club that Busan no longer belong to.
Losing Popo is certainly not going to help. The Brazilian was certainly the most impressive overseas player in the league last season, scoring 13 and making five from midfield. The addition of goalkeeper Seo Dong-myung and Park Kyu-seon from Ulsan and the return of Luciano from Gyeongnam add depth to a squad that is lacking in quality.
Key Player: Lee Hyun-sung
Last season: Eighth
Next season: Tenth
It was a difficult first season for the club but first season’s are usually tough. Seconds are not usually much better but the addition of Popo will be a huge help. Even with the talented Brazilian, it is unlikely that the south coast outfit will extend their season by finishing in the play-off spots.
Key Player: Popo
Last season: 12th
Next season: 11th
The club has some of the most passionate fans in the country but the team is still far from challenging at the top. They may have finished third in the first stage last year but finished third from bottom in the second, despite collecting only seven points less.
It is hard for the Citizen club to compete with the big boys and the loss of talisman Lee Kwan-soo to Suwon in mid-season hit hard.
At the moment, the club could be a solid mid-table outfit, though with the new league format, that could take them into the play-off.
If powerful striker Denilson can continue his scoring from the second half of last season and former Korean star Ko Jong-soo can show why he was once considered one of the best players in Asia, then the season could be reasonable.
Key Player: Denilson
Last season: 10th
Next season: 11th
It was a disappointing first season on the island for United. Bucheon had shown that they were starting to improve as a team and almost made the play-offs in 2005 but in Jeju the team looked poor for the most part.
Strikers like Choi Chul-woo and Irenue looked good for short spells but were never able to sustain any goalscoring form. Choi has gone as has Kim Kil-shik and Byun Jae-sub. It looks like being a tough season ahead for Jeju.
Lee San is an interesting signing however. The youngster spent his formative years with West Ham’s youth team before heading to Brentford and Sheffield United.
Key Player: Cho Jun-ho
Last season: 13th
Next season: 13th
The loss of Chung Kyung-ho back to Ulsan is a blow for the military outfit but Gwangju are nothing if not accustomed to a high turnover of players. The ins and outs make it almost impossible for the club to compete in the K-League. It would be a shock in the team even looks like getting close to a top six finish. A top ten finish would be welcomed.