Wednesday, 5 December 2012

End of season Review - 승리 하라 대전

The 2012 K-league has drawn to a close and Daejeon Citizen have survived the first ever relegation battle. A 1-0 final day home victory over Daegu in Coach Yoos last game sent Daejeon fans home with something to cheer and allowed them some optimism for next season.

Team review

The club will see the season as one where their aims were ultimately achieved, although at times the team looked less than convincing. With relegation introduced for the first time, the Citizens aim would have been solely to avoid starting next season in the K2. On that front the season was a success, however the performances along the way were worrying and coach Yoo paid the price, with it already being confirmed that he would be replaced at the end of the season. New coach Kim In Wan will be looking to secure safety again next season but will have a lot of work on his hands.

Memorable moments

The highlight of the season was the 2-1  home victory over arch rivals Suwon Samsung Bluewings. Kevin's second strike of the game in the 94th minute is a goal that will be remembered by the Daejeon faithful for a long time.

The 5-3 victory against Gangwon late in the season was an important win as well as a great spectacle. Romanian Zicu claimed a hat trick for Gangwon but, not to be out done, Kevin scored 3 of his own and inspired the Citizens on to victory. It was a thrilling game and vital in the battle against the drop.


A solitary season in charge
In defence of Yoo Sang Chul, he took over the club after possibly one of the worst seasons any team has experienced. The club finished one place off the bottom the previous season, claiming only 6 wins out of 30 whilst seeing many players fired for their involvement in a match fixing scandal.

Adding to the difficulty of the task was the complete lack of funds available to him and the fact he lacked any experience besides having previously managed a high school team.

No one expected anything more than a relegation battle this season, however it was Yoo's inability to correct any of the persistent failings that lead to his dismissal after safety was secured. The Citizens shocking start to the season and the end of season collapse in form showed that Yoo had not addressed any of the obvious deficiencies in the teams performances. Combine this with failing to ever show much tactical awareness by changing the system during or before games, and  it was clear the team was going nowhere.

It may be a while before we see Chul in a dug out again.


Kevin Oris:

The Player of the season award can only really go to one man. Kevin Oris spent the vast majority of the season alone and hopelessly isolated against the opposition defence, yet managed to claim 16 goals in 37 appearances. Whenever he was out of the side Daejeon never looked like scoring. His performances will have surely drawn attention from the bigger K-league sides as well as teams back in Europe and the rest of Asia. If the club can keep hold of him it would be a great boost going into next season.

Back in a Jeonbuk shirt
 next season?
Kim Hyung Bum:

The on loan Korean international from Jeonbuk was another strong performer. Though at times he neglects his defensive duties, his set piece deliveries provided valuable assists for Kevin. He was one of the few Citizen midfielders who consistently wanted the ball and looked comfortable in possession. He has had injury problems over the years and seemed to dip in form an fitness during the middle of the season but still finished as second top scorer for the team with 5 goals. Jeonbuk will lose several midfielders this season so they may have a role for Kim in their squad, though he would surely play a more vital role at Daejeon. It remains to be seen where he will be playing next season.


The Brazilian centre half arrived at Daejeon something of a journeyman having had a new club almost every year. Upon arrival he made a steady start but grew to be an important part of the DCFC defence. It was telling that once he picked up a serious injury ruling him out for the last few games of the season the Daejeon defence looked incredibly weak. He is by no means a great defender, the middle the K league seeming to be his appropriate level, but he is the best defender at the club and the only one able to read the game effectively. His contract currently expires this winter and it is unknown if he will be offered a renewal following his injury. He will however be fit for the start of the season and losing him would just add to the number of good new defenders the coach needs to identify and bring in.

Yuta Baba:

There were high hopes for Baba at the start of the season. He joined half way through the previous campaign and showed in places that he had the ability to pick a pass and string play together. With half a season behind him to settle in and adjust he was expected to be the main man in the centre of the park. However he never progressed and again only performed in patches. His passing was often frustratingly inconsistent and his aversion to tackling became more evident. As a Japanese national he occupies the additional 1 Asian per squad slot, something that must be carefully considered.


Arriving part way through the season from Melbourne Heart, Terra was a replacement for fellow Brazilian Leo. During his brief spell Leo had failed to provide any real attacking threat to accompany Kevin, or even stay fit. Terra improved on his compatriots performances, bagging four goals (including a contender for goal of the season) and proving greater width to the team when drifting out wide to collect the ball. Unfortunately Terra never seemed to hit peak fitness and at times would disappear from games and with his contract up it is likely we have seen the last of him in a Daejeon shirt

Kim Byeong Sok

Another late arrival was Kim Byeong Sok, a Korean who had his football education in France and Portugal, with Daejeon being his first K league club. After a shaky start where he clearly lacked fitness he has been shifted through several positions from midfield to striker or winger. He has shown a nice touch on the ball as well as a keen eye for building an attack quickly, whilst his height and strength caused opponents concern. By the end of the end Daejeon fans saw him as an important part of the team and he could be an big player for Daejeon next season

Next season

The new management team has announced that next seasons target will remain the same as this seasons, staying in the K league. The challenge will be harder this time though as no side will be automatically relegated as Sangju were this season. The level and competitiveness of the league will also rightly improve. The coach has already spoke of the need for defensive reinforcement's for next seasons campaign


There are several fringe players that made little impact over the course of the season but it is possible that several first team regulars could be moved on to improve the side. Nearly every Citizen fan will be praying the club can keep hold of Kevin, but Terra and Baba are expendable. If it were down to me, I would offer Alessandro a new contract and try to build around him at the back rather than have to build a whole new defence.


Moving Baba and Terra out would free up one foreigner spot and the Asian player spot. The club can use these as they try to bring in several players. They must bring in a new starting central defender (2 if Alessandro is allowed to leave), a central midfielder to replace Baba, a winger to fill in for Kim Hyung Bum now his loan is up and a striker to help ease the complete reliance upon Kevin.

There are two players I would like to see in a Daejeon shirt next season that may represent reasonable targets.

Ideal partner for Kevin
Firstly, Jaoa Paulo of relegated Gwangju. Taking players from a team that were relegated may not sound the most optimistic but he has bagged 8 goals in each of his 2 K-league seasons, so he knows the league well, and has played along side a target man like Kevin for Gwangju. Aged just 24, his best years are also ahead of him and he has a lot more K league goals in him. His movement and technique would sit nicely alongside Kevin.

The need to add experience to the centre of midfield, but with little to spend, would mean trying to bring in Kim Geun Chol from Chunnam Dragons could make a lot of sense. He only played 13 games last season and aged 29 he may be looking for more regular football. He has experience in Japan and the K league with both Gyeongnam and Busan. He would also leave the foreign player slots free to try and bring in foreign defender.

There will no doubt be a reliance upon free agents to boost Daejeons squad for next year, as well as new draft players. The success of new season relies upon them recruiting more players like Kevin and Kim Byeong Sok, players who can raise the standards expected of the team and drive the team up the table.

My Experience

It was my first complete season watching the K-league after arriving in Korea half way through last season. The standard of football varies wildly between the top chaebol teams (those owned by mega companies such as Hyundai or Suwon etc) and local state funded teams such as Daejeon. The best players could me low level championship players in England, the worst would be playing Sunday league. It makes for interesting viewing.

The match day experience is also far removed from what I was used to, having grown up attending premier league games. Crowd numbers are usually far lower, with Daejeon attracting an average of around 4,000 for a home game. The crowd is made to seem even smaller when they are playing at home in the 40,000 capacity world cup stadium. There are however many positives to the match day experience here. Tickets rarely costs more than £6 , with Daejeon tickets being around £3.50. The low pricing also extends to beer, which can be bought for around £2 a time. You can also feel at home quite quickly, seeing the same regular faces each time. It has been at times a frustrating season following Daejeon Citizen, but ultimately an enjoyable experience and one that has me looking forward to next season.

승리 하라 대전!

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