The best hit products in the K-League in the 2023 season were Gwangju FC and its head coach Lee Jung-hyo. With Gwangju being promoted from the second division, civic teams Incheon and Daegu also performed well, causing a tectonic shift in the K-League landscape, which was considered exclusive to corporate teams.
Lee Jung-hyo’s Gwangju Leads K-League’s Top Gust
During the K League 1 Media Day held in February, no one paid attention to Gwangju. At the time, manager Lee Jung-hyo expressed strong confidence, saying, “There seem to be a lot of people who envy me and want me to be bad for our country’s sentiment,” adding, “There is no other way. I want to say that we will not easily give points.”월카지노
In the second round match against Seoul, he expressed regret that he lost to a soccer team like him after the 0-2 loss, causing a stir. No manager in Korea has expressed such direct and outspokenness. K-League fans welcomed the emergence of a new character and gave coach Lee Jung-hyo the nickname “K-Murinho.”
Gwangju fell to ninth place from April through May with seven consecutive wins without a win, but achieved an unbeaten record (five wins and five draws) for 10 consecutive games from round 21 to round 30, showing an upward trajectory. The team’s final performance was 16 wins, 11 draws and 11 losses, ranking third with 59 points. It was the first time for the team to advance to the Asian Champions League Elite (ACLE).
Last year, he was appointed as the head coach of Gwangju and confirmed the shortest win in K League 2 (second division) history, and a year after being promoted, he finished third in K League 1 to prove his leadership.
Head coach Lee Jung-hyo gave a fresh wind to the K-League, chasing the trend of modern soccer that utilizes intense forward pressure and inverted fullbacks. In the process, central midfielders Lee Soon-min and Jung Ho-yeon, right-back Doo Hyun-suk and winger Um Ji-sung emerged as top K-League players under the direction of Lee Jung-hyo.
Gwangju not only ranked the highest and most wins in K League 1 history, but also won against all clubs in the first division.
Gwangju officially announced on the 13th that it has renewed its contract with Lee Jung-hyo until 2027. It is the longest-term contract since the foundation of the club. As a result, Gwangju will be able to take on an outspoken challenge with coach Lee Jung-hyo next year.
Incheon, which had always struggled desperately in the race for survival at the bottom, proved to be a strong team again this season. It finished fourth in the league last year, achieving the feat of participating in the ALC for the first time since the club was founded, and succeeded in staying in the Final A this season as well.
Although he ranked fifth in the league this season and failed to advance to the ACL for the second consecutive year, it is encouraging that he is gradually erasing the image of the weak team under the guidance of coach Cho Sung-hwan.
Among them, foreign players showed remarkable performance. Hernandez, Mpoku, Gerso, Mugosa, and Delbridge performed better than average. In particular, Gerso was selected as the best 11 in the K League 1 in the 2023 season, playing the role of Incheon’s ace.
Daegu, which ranked eighth last year, has enjoyed a successful year, rising two notches to sixth this season. Choi Won-kwon, who served as the head coach under Gama last year, recorded five wins, four draws and two losses after serving as the acting coach during the season, and managed to keep the team that was ranked 11th.
This season was an important test for Choi Won-kwon, who took over as an official coach last year. It was not as impressive as Gwangju, but there was no notable crisis.
Edgar and Cesinha, who are slowly coming down from their prime, were responsible for nine and eight goals, respectively, leading Daegu’s attack as always this season. In particular, despite criticism that Daegu is a bit boring, it has outstanding ability to decide one shot from a chance. This is the driving force behind his ability to advance to the Final A with only 42 points.
DGB Daegu Bank Park was in the spotlight as a place for Daegu citizens to enjoy the weekend, recording 11 sold out in 2023 alone. Despite the poor finances of a civic team, it has remained in the K League 1 for seven consecutive seasons and has consistently shown competitiveness.