Monday, February 28, 2011

ACL Preview - Suwon Bluewings

Suwon celebrate winning the 2010 Korean FA Cup
For a club with a history littered with success, the fact Suwon has gone the best part of a decade without lifting the continents showpiece trophy is not something that sits too well with everyone involved with the club.

Suwon last tasted continental success in 2002, when they won the old Asian Club Championship – repeating their effort from a year earlier when they won their first continental crown.

Just after being appointed as their new manager in June last year, after Cha Bum-kun resigned after seven years in charge, Jung Sung-hyo set his sights on success in the AFC Champions League.

Afterall, he knows the importance of continental success after being an assistant coach at Suwon during their triumphs in 2001 and 2002.

During the World Cup break Jung strengthened his Suwon side by signing Naohiro Takahara on loan from Urawa Reds, Park jong-jin from Gangwon FC and pulled off a stunning coup when he snatched Pohang Steelers captain Hwang Jae-won from under their noses.

While it didn’t eventuate in success in 2010, Suwon crashed out to eventual champions and fellow K-League outfit Seongnam Ilhwa in the Quarter Finals, Jung didn’t let that deter him and was once again busy in the transfer market in the K-League off-season.

No fewer than 25 players have been recruited during the off-season, although a fair percentage of those are players promoted from their Youth Team and signed from University or High School teams.

Going in the other direction were 27 players, among them Naohiro Takahara who ended his loan spell and signed with J.League side Shimizu S-Pulse as well as last seasons top scorer in the ACL Brazilian Jose Mota, whose loan from Molde FK ended.

The calibre of players coming in, however, more than makes up for any losses. Lee Woon-jae, once Korea’s number one goal keeper, departed for Chunnam Dragons and Suwon went out and replaced him with current number one, Jung Sung-ryung, who moves from current ACL champions Seongnam Ilhwa.

Choi Sung-kuk
Also making that move is striker Choi Sung-kuk, who will be looking for more opportunities in Suwon. And their playing roster has strengthened again in the last few days with the signing of Uzbek international Alexander Geynrikh on loan from Pakhtakor.

Jung’s philosophy is simple – to win playing attractive Football.

He recognises that that is the way the game is moving and he wants Suwon playing the same way.

“I think the recent trend is attacking football with short passes like Barcelona. Though we can be as good as Barcelona I want to show decent attacking football because I believe that only attacking football can attract fans,” he told recently.

Such wholesale changes normally result in the squad taking time to adjust and it remains to be seen what affect it will have on this Suwon outfit.

One thing is for certain though, Suwon aren’t going to die wondering and that could spell trouble for their opponents.


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