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Jeju United new season sees 18 new faces
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승인 2014.03.07  08:47:30
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▲ Photo courtesy Jeju United

As Jeju United takes their Seogwipo pitch this Saturday for the first time in 2014, hometown fans will find themselves with a slough of new names to become familiar with.

18 new players will don Jeju’s citrusy kits in 2014 – including four new import players – as they attempt to right the course of the ship that veered wildly off course last campaign. The newcomers will join 15 returnees in an attempt to fill the void left by the 20 that have sought employment elsewhere

Attackers Joco Stokić (a Bosnia-Herzegovinian import, dealt from FK Borac Banja Luka), Hwang Il-Soo (Daegu FC), and Kim Hyun (Seongnam FC) will join returning veterans Kang Soo-Il, Jin Dae-Sun, and Bae Il-Hwan in attempting to cover for Jeju’s departed top three scorers from 2013(Pedro Junior, Japan’s Vissel Kobe; Maranhão, Kuwait’s Al Qadsia; Seo Dong-Hyeon, Police FC). In addition to them, attackers Lee Hyun-Jin (Chainat, Thai Premier League), Ahn Jong-Hoon (Gwangju), Rodriguinho (Clube Atletico Linense), Waldison (Brazil’s Fortaleza), Park Gi-Dong (Jeonnam Dragons), Bae Ki-Jong (Suwon Bluewings), Lee Jin-Ho (Daegu FC), and Park Seung-Il (Sangju Sangmu FC) have also taken their talents elsewhere. Stokić was a top three scorer in the Bosnia-Herzegovina Premier League the last two years, and Jeju will unquestionably require him to replicate those efforts in the 2014 K-League season if they are to improve on 2013’s relegation round banishment.

New United midfielders include Jung Da-Hwon (Gyeongnam), Kim Young-Shin (Sangju Sangmu in 12-13, Jeju United in 09-11), Park Soo-Chang (Chungju), Heo Beom-San (Daejeon Citizen), Juan Estiven Vélez (a Colombian import, dealt from Vissel Kobe – the Japanese club Pedro Junior moved to), Hugo Droguett (a Chilean import, dealt from Deportes Cobreloa), Bae Sae-Hyun, Kim Sang-Won, and Jang Yoon-Kyu – the latter three will all make their pro debuts this season. These recruits will align with returning vets Kim Bong-Rae, Jwa Joon-Hyub,Yoon Bit-Garam, Song Jin-Hyung (the top scorer remaining from United’s 2013 roster) and captain Oh Seung-Beom. Midfielder departures were minimal – only Yang Juna (Sangju Sangmu FC), Kwon Soon-Hyung (Sangju Sangmu FC), and Choi Won-Kwon (Daegu FC) have moved on.

Considering how much criticism Jeju United’s defense took last season (even coach Park Kyung-Hoon commented on their need to improve at the position), it is curious that the team has restructured this area’s personnel the least. Aleksandar Jovanović (an Australia/Serbian import, dealt from Suwon FC) and Kim Soo-Beom (Sangji University) are the only adds made to join the returning Cho Jun-Hyun, In-Ho Hwang, Lee Yong, Hwang Do-Yeon, Oh Ban-Suk, Han Yong-Su, and Kang Joon-Woo (who hasn’t played for any club since suiting up for Jeju in 2010-11). They will replace Hong Jeong-Ho (FC Augsburg), Heo Jae-Won (Daegu FC), Lee Sung-Hyun (Gimhae City, NAL), and Lee Sung-Hyun (Gimhae City, NAL).

In stark contrast, United’s Goalkeeper roster has been completely revamped. No keepers from last season have returned, and four new stoppers have been brought in to replace them. Kim Ho-Jun (Sangju Sangmu FC, played with Jeju from 2010-11) and Kim Kyung-Min (Hanyang University) will likely take the bulk of the workload between the pipes, while Kim In-Seok and Kim Hyung-Rok have joined as well. Jeon Tae-Hyun has moved on to Police FC.

The aforementioned Park Kyung-Hoon – aka King Rattlesnake – also returns for the 2014 season to embark on his fifth consecutive managerial campaign with Jeju United.

As of press time, the playing statuses of six Jeju United players from the 2013 season remain unconfirmed. Attacker Bae Il-Hwan, midfielders Oh Joo-Hyun and Oh Seung-Beom, defensemen Madaschi and Jang Won-Seok, and goalkeeper Han Dong-Jin do not currently appear on the official roster of Jeju United or any other club at the moment.

Jeju United opens 2014 at home this Saturday against the Suwon Bluewings, kicking off at 4pm from Seogwipo World Cup Stadium. It’s the first of five March matches for United, also playing at home on the 22nd against Seongnam, and Gyeongnam on the 30th. Their other two games this month are on the road, facing Jeonnam on the 16th, and Seoul on the 26th.

Dave Cunning is a freelance writer from Kelowna, BC, Canada. Read his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter:

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