New Challenges for ‘Ki Dong Magic’ and ‘Hak Bumson’

Will Gwangju FC’s ‘Lee Jung-hyo surge’ continue this year?

Led by Lee Jung-hyo, Gwangju finished the 2023 season in third place (16 wins, 11 draws, and 11 losses) and qualified for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League Elite (ACLE) Playoffs (PO) for the 2024-2025 season.

The team beat out stiff competition from Jeonbuk Hyundai, Incheon United, and Daegu FC.

At the center of Gwangju’s meteoric rise is head coach Lee Jung-hyo, who has been dubbed the “Mourinho of Korea.

The nickname was given to him by K-League fans because his interview style, in which he boldly attacks opposing managers’ tactics and strategies without a filter, resembles the former AS Roma (Italy) manager Jose Mourinho, 바카라사이트 the greatest coach in European soccer.

It’s not just interviews.

His charisma and ability to take control of the team and overwhelm opponents led Gwangju to third place in the league.

It was a “surprise” that completely defied expectations that the team would be in a rush to stay up.

Under Lee’s tutelage, Gwangju became a powerhouse in the K League and beyond in just a few seasons.

The club also made history. Gwangju achieved the highest ranking and number of wins in its history under Lee.

Even opposing managers who had dismissed Gwangju’s surge as a blip were calling them one of the toughest teams to beat before the final round last season.

Looking ahead to the 2024 season, Lee’s goal is to go beyond staying in the top flight and establish Gwangju as one of the league’s most prestigious clubs.

But this will require a different approach. The club will have to take a different path than Ulsan HD and Jeonbuk Hyundai, both of which have strong parental support.

Part of Gwangju’s success last season was due to Lee’s leadership, but also to the development of potential players.

Uhm Ji Sung, Heo Yul, Jung Ho Yeon, Lee Soon Min, Lee Hee Kyun, and Lee Hee Kyun have all risen to the top of the league under Lee’s guidance. Lee Soon-min was recognized for his skills and was capped at the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup.

Others such as Um Ji-sung, Heo Yul, and Jeong Ho-yeon stood out in their respective age groups.

With Lee Sun-min’s departure to Daejeon Hana Citizen, Gwangju will look to fill the void with another star signing this season.

Lee, who broke onto the scene last season and extended his contract with Gwangju until 2027, is determined to expand his influence beyond managing the first team squad and into the youth ranks to build on the basic roots of Gwangju’s soccer program.

If Lee’s plan works this year, Gwangju could take the first step toward becoming a top-tier club.

Other notable new managers include FC Seoul’s Kim Ki-dong and Jeju United’s Kim Hak-bum.

Kim, who had a strong track record with the Pohang Steelers, will be taking on a new challenge in Seoul this season.

Since 2019, the Steelers have finished in the top half of the K League 1 every year, and last year they finished second in the league and won the Korea Cup (the predecessor to the FA Cup).

Kim, who has been dubbed “maneuvering magic” by fans for his leadership of the struggling Pohang Salim, was touted as the right man to lead Seoul’s resurgence after four consecutive seasons in the lower division.

Seoul’s roster includes Ilyuchenko, Palosevic, and Kim Sang-hyeop, all of whom Kim coached at Pohang, as well as veteran international midfielder Ki Sung-yong.

The team also brought in former Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard from the English Premier League (EPL), making them an instant favorite to win the title.

Jeju, who finished ninth last season despite having the potential to finish in the top four, hired a veteran coach in Kim Hak-bum, who has seen his fair share of ups and downs in the soccer world.

Nicknamed “Hakbumson” Kim is one of the most prominent names in Korean soccer.

He has coached Seongnam Ilhwa (2005-2008), Gangwon FC (2012-2013), Seongnam FC (2014-2016), and Gwangju FC (2017) before taking the helm of the U-23 national team and leading them to gold at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta-Palembang.

It’s been seven years since Kim stepped down as Gwangju’s head coach in November 2017.

Kim is one of those managers who knows the path to victory better than anyone. He led Seongnam to the K League title (2006) and the Korea Cup (2014).

Kim, who returned to the K League with Jeju after a stint in the wilderness following their quarterfinal exit at the 2022 Tokyo Olympics, is aiming to reach Final A this season.

After that, he plans to lead Jeju back to the top of the league by advancing to the ACL and winning the K League 1 and Korea Cup.

He has brought in young blood to support veteran midfielder Koo Ja-cheol, adding dynamism to the squad. 사설 토토사이트 All-weather multiplayer Kim Tae-hwan, Kim Jung-min, and Lee Yoo-hyun have all donned Jeju’s colors.

The team also brought in Brazilian striker Thales and midfielder Italo to fill out their weaknesses.

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