It’s the “promotion gust” that has taken the K League 1 by storm. Gwangju FC, led by head coach Lee Jung-hyo (48), is having the best season in the club’s history, finishing third in its first season of promotion (42-11 W, 9 D, 8 L). They are on pace to break the club’s all-time record for most points (48), set in 2016, and also surpass their highest ever ranking (6th in 2020).
With five regular and five split rounds remaining, many are predicting Gwangju to qualify for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) for the first time in its history. However, Lee says he is “focusing on the next game, not the leaderboard.” “There are still 10 games left in the season, not just five,” he said in a recent phone call with Sports Donga.
Gwangju returned to the top flight after a one-year hiatus last season after winning the K League 2 title with the most points (86) in the league’s history, but there were more concerns than excitement. Prior to the start of the season, fellow promotion contenders Daejeon Hana Citizens brought in a number of semi-professional resources, while Gwangju’s depth was small. Despite the signings of Asani (Albania), Thomas (Brazil), and Timo (Netherlands), many pointed out that they didn’t have any stars.
Despite the results, the situation is still not good for Gwangju. Recently, Gwangju Metropolitan City and the club promised to improve the training environment by building a dedicated training center, but it is reportedly still in the review stage. Due to the lack of funds, the club was only able to sign Beka (Georgia) in the summer transfer market to replace Sandro (Brazil), who was banned for driving without a license.
However, Lee does not doubt Gwangju’s bright future. “It’s my mission to make Gwangju a team that players want to come to,” he says, and he’s been able to develop a number of promising players from the club’s youth ranks, 바카라사이트 including Lee Hee-gyun, Uhm Ji-sung, and Jung Ho-yeon. As the team’s results and performances improved, midfielder Lee Soon-min earned his first-ever call-up to the national team led by Jürgen Klinsmann (Germany). “Due to the team’s situation, we need to develop our backup players and strengthen the squad. Our priority is to maintain our form until the start of the split round.”