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2024 Hana Bank K League 2 Round 1 Preview

league 2024.02.29   I   hits 176

The 2024 Hana Bank K League 2 campaign begins this week with six matches spread out over three days, including two on Korean Independence Movement Day this Friday. With this year;s race for promotion expected to be one of the most hotly contested ever, all 13 teams in the second division will be determined to get off to a positive start. 

Match of the Round

Busan IPark vs. Seoul E-Land, Sun. 3rd March - 16:30

Looking to put last year's playoff heartbreak behind them, Busan IPark get their 2024 campaign up and running with the visit of Seoul E-Land this Sunday. Seoul, with the acquisitions of Osmar, Makrillos, Kim Young-wook, and Kim Oh-gyu among many others, will themselves be tipped as one of the many potential promotion contenders. All of whom could make their Leopards debuts, as too Park Jeong-in who moved to Mokdong from Busan, as well as Jeong Jae-yong, Lim Dong-hyuk, Eduvie Ikoba, and Park Min-seo. There could be a second Busan debut for An Byong-jun who returned to the club over winter as well as first appearances for Ricardo Lopes, Mukhammadali Alikulov, and Kwon Sung-yun. 

Busan's record on the opening day over the last five seasons reads two wins, one draw, and two losses. Last season, Park Jin-sub's men began with a 3-2 win away to Cheonan City. Seoul E-Land's opening day record over the same period reads won two, drawn one, and lost two. Last year, the Leopards began the new season with a 3-2 loss at home to Chungbuk Cheongju. If the last 10 meetings are anything to go by then this Sunday's clash will be tightly contested. When this fixture has had a winner - in eight of the last 10 meetings - it has been by just a single goal. There have been some high-scoring encounters, though, including a 5-3 Busan win in the capital in November 2019 and a 3-3 draw in August of that year. Busan and Seoul E-Land have met on the opening day before, back in 2021 when the capital club ran out 3-0 winners away from home.

Team of the Round

Suwon Samsung Bluewings (vs. Chungnam Asan, Sun. 3rd March - 14:00)

Suwon Samsung Bluewings' relegation from K League 1 will still be a shock to some, but this Sunday Yeom Ki-hun's men begin their quest to return to the top flight. With an instant return expected by the Big Bird faithful, a positive start will be seen as a must. Chungnam Asan are the Bluewings' first K League 2 opponents, visiting Big Bird for the very first time and for a first-ever meeting between the two teams. There could be Bluewings bows for Baek Dong-gyu, Choi Ji-mok, Kim Hyun, and Son Suk-yong. The last four of Suwon's season openers have ended 1-0, but only one saw the Bluewings emerge as victors - 1-0 at home to Gwangju in 2021. 

[READ: 2024 K League 1 Round 1 Preview]

Player of the Round

Valdivia, Jeonnam Dragons (vs. Chungbuk Cheongju, Sat. 2nd March - 16:30)

The 2023 K League 2 MVP Valdivia will be looking to pick up where he left off. The Brazilian star scored 14 and assisted 14 more last term but, interestingly, there were only two clubs he didn't score against last season - Cheonan City and Jeonnam's opponents this Saturday, Chungbuk Cheongju. He did, however, register three assists against each of them, including two in the Dragons' last meeting with the Lions - a 3-0 home win at the end of October. With the Dragons looking to mount a playoff push this season, Valdivia will be keen to get off to a good start this weekend.

Elsewhere in K League 2 Round 1

Ansan Greeners host Gyeongnam FC this Friday in a game that will see experienced striker Yun Ju-tae face his former employers. Yun moved back to Gyeongnam from Ansan over the winter where he had got his career back on track. Ansan are looking for their first opening-day win since 2020 while Gyeongnam won in Round 1 last year, beating Bucheon, their first opening-day win since 2019.

Also on Friday, FC Anyang entertain Seongnam FC in something of a south Gyeonggi Province derby and a match between two teams with genuine promotion aspirations. Anyang have won their last three season openers, losing just once in the last five. Seongnam, meanwhile, won in Round 1 last year, beating Ansan Greeners and have a record of two wins, one draw, and two losses on the opening day since 2019.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, also in Gyeonggi-do, Bucheon FC 1995 take on last season's basement side Cheonan City. Bucheon, with the aim of reaching the playoffs, will be keen to get off to a winning start; the Reds haven't won on the opening day since 2020, while Cheonan will be looking to start a bit stronger than they did last year after only picking up their first K League point in Round 8 and first win in Round 23.

[READ: 2024 K League 2 Season Preview]

K League 2 Round 1 Fixtures

Friday 1st March

#ANSvGYE: Ansan Greeners vs. Gyeongnam FC - 14:00
#ANYvSFC: FC Anyang vs. Seongnam FC - 14:00

Saturday 2nd March

#BUCvCCFC: Bucheon FC 1995 vs. Cheonan City - 14:00
#CHFCvJDFC: Chungbuk Cheongju vs. Jeonnam Dragons - 16:30

Sunday 3rd March

#SSBvCAFC: Suwon Samsung Bluewings vs. Chungnam Asan - 14:00
#BUSvSEFC: Busan IPark vs. Seoul E-Land - 16:30

Gimpo FC sit Round 1 out

Where to Watch

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