When the 2021 season started I decided that I wanted to profile one player every month, someone who I thought would be the standout player for the month, for one reason or another. For March I was spoiled for choice, we had Ki Sung-yeung finally getting the chance to perform on a K-League pitch again, we had Yoon Bitgaram fresh from his ACL heroics and of course we had the usual influx of foreign players as clubs hoped to find a hidden gem among the multitude of rocks that find somehow find their way to Korea every winter. It was among that foreign contingent that I chose my first candidate, the one and only ‘giant of Tancheon’…Fejsal Mulic.
Mulic came to Seongnam from FK Velez Mostar who ply their trade in the Premier League of Bosnia and Herzegovina where he had scored 9 goals in 19 appearances, previously having played in Slovenia, Israel, Belgium and Germany. He has never been exactly what you would call prolific but he is, incredibly, over 200cm tall and looks more Conan The Barbarian than Fejsal The Poacher if truth be told. He was allegedly signed for over €200,000, although it does seem that it may well be a ‘loan with the option to buy’ deal, a hefty price tag for a citizen club like Seongnam to be forking out to be honest especially on someone as much as an unknown entity as the Serbian. He is only 26 which is a little bit younger than you would expect for someone who has travelled as much as he.
Much has of course been made of his height when in reality my 14mth baby might be more comfortable heading the ball than the big man looks when a cross is whipped in. He is definitely lacking the aerial prowess of a Henrik Larsson and, to coin a ridiculous cliché, he actually does have a “good touch for a big man”. He seems to have a little bit of pace about him too which he showed when he, much to my merriment, left Gangwon’s Lim Chai-min trailing when they faced each other earlier in the month.
He didn’t exactly have a great debut, he replaced 2020 saviour Hong Si-hoo in the opening match against Jeju and really did look like a player who was trying far too hard with the ball looking like it was repulsed by him as it ricocheted off practically every body part. It’s safe to say that most Seongnam fans thought they had been sold yet another pig in the poke with another happy agent dancing into the sunset with his pockets bulging. After that Jeju match Seongnam lost to Bluewings with Mulic again looking like an amnesiac playing the game for the first time and although the knives weren’t exactly getting sharpened he was looking like someone who had been signed based on a YouTube highlights reel.
Next up for Seongnam was a buoyant FC Seoul and the obligatory defeat that has so often accompanied this fixture of late. Seongnam had the best of the game but Seoul were continually threatening and it looked like a 0-0 draw was the best the boys in black would get when suddenly one raise of Ki’s arm followed by perfect penalty gave Seongnam all 3pts, gave Mulic his first goal and gave Seongnam fans their new hero. The big man’s smile being so bright they could have switched the floodlights off. The victory was quickly followed with a trip to Suwon FC, and my first live match in over a year. It saw a spirited 2nd half comeback inspired by Mulic who grabbed the equalizer before being pulled back by Park Ji-soo who was flashed a straight which completely turned the game in Seongnam’s favour. That performance would earn him Player Of The Round, an accolade Seognam fans hope he repeats across the season.
There would, unfortunately, be no more goals for him in March but he would continue to grow into his role at his new club, holding up play while spraying the ball around the pitch almost effortlessly at times. Against a 10 man Pohang team he was the focal point of every attack as The Magpies yet again came from behind to win. And while he didn’t score on this occasion he undoubtedly sent the Pohang backline back down South with both bruises and nightmares pending.
There is no chance that we will see the big guy lifting the ‘Golden Boot’ aloft at the end of the season and he is not going to be the next Dejan but he has quickly made an impression on the Seongnam fans and the league as a whole and, thankfully, not just because he’s “even taller than The Wookie”.
Next month’s player focus will be Ulsan’s Yoon Bitgaram……