The 2019 K-League One season sees the return to the top table of Seongnam FC as The Magpies grace the league’s top division again after spending the last two seasons in K-League Two. They kick off their season with a trip to Changwon to face last year’s runners-up Gyeongnam FC. Gyeongnam bolstered their squad recently with the addition of English striker Jordan Mutch and Dutch striker Luc Castaignos while Seongnam brought in the ‘K2 Avengers’ i.e. the best of the K2 from last season….minus Hwang In-beom depending on your point of view. It should be a cracking first game back for the boys in black and given their next two games are home clashes against FC Seoul and Suwon Bluewings it’s important they don’t lose.
Also on the Friday we have Ulsan back in domestic action after booking their place in the ACL Group Stages with a 5-1 victory over Malaysia’s Perak FC as they welcome Suwon Bluewings to town. Bluwings finally strengthened in the transfer window when the signed A-League, and ex-Dundee United, striker Adam Taggart. These two teams, on paper at least, should be challenging for the ACL spots come the end of season.
The final game on Friday sees Champions Jeonbuk begin their defence of the title with a home match against FA Cup Winners Daegu FC in the Korean version of the Charity Shield
Saturday sees the return to Incheon Football Stadium for Elias Aguilar after his winter move to Jeju. The Costa Rican play-maker was central to Incheon’s attacking play last season and will be a huge loss. Incheon were a completely different team under coach Jorn Andersen and it will be interesting to see what he can achieve given a full season. Jeju had a disappointing 2018, surrendering meekly in the ACL before finishing the year in 5th spot. A ‘must do better’ grade would have been posted on their report card for sure.
The other match on Saturday sees Sangju host Gangwon. Both teams finished in the bottom six last year with Sangju avoiding the playoffs with a last day victory over FC Seoul and this clash probably falls under the “I wouldn’t mind shopping with the wife and missing it” category…..well maybe.
The final game of the opening weekend is FC Seoul vs Pohang Steelers as the hosts will obviously hope to get an early victory to erase the memory of last year’s disastrous campaign. Seoul avoided relegation to the K-League Two as Busan imploded in the playoffs and they can ill afford a repeat of last year’s spiritless performances. Pohang will be looking to build on their best season in years as they climbed to the heady heights of 4th in the table and although aided by Bluewings end of season collapse they must have their sights set on an ACL spot this year around.
Predictions are below