On Feb. 1, following two big additions last week to the team’s roster, Jeju United held a photo op at Jeju World Cup Stadium unveiling the island’s 2012 K-League squad that will take to the pitch for their season opener, March 3 against Incheon United.
This will be an important and trying year for the Orange. Along with needing to produce consistent play to lift them from last year’s disappointing ninth-place finish (one spot short of a playoff birth), they will also have to adjust to the new K-league ranking system which will drop the bottom two teams to the second tier league at the end of the season.
Due to last year’s game rigging scandal, the league’s format was changed, and though hopefully forcing players to excel, this puts an added strain on the coaches.
“I’m sure all the coaches, including myself, are feeling the pressure due to the new system in the K-League,” Jeju United Head Coach Park Kyung Hoon said to The Weekly after posing for team photos. “However, it will be an opportunity for many Korean soccer teams to step up to the next level.”
With this being his third year at the Orange’s helm, he hopes to perfect his “three plenties of Jeju soccer” (strong as rock, swift as wind, and as beautiful as a woman). “I want to bring a more energetic, fun, and moving game to the fans that is comparable to other big teams like Barcelona.”
This has been his philosophy since he became United’s head coach and believes the fans can expect much from this season’s squad. “We should be within the top eight,” Park said. “No one expects Jeju to be first, but I want to make it happen this year.”
With the signings of striker Robert de Pinho de Souza, 30, and center defender Adrian Anthony Madaschi, 29, on Jan. 16, team president Byun Myung Gi believes that they are closer to this goal than before.
“This year our team will be very strong. We hope we will be the fifth or fourth team this year,” he said.
Byun has big hopes for the Brazilian and anticipates that de Souza will rack up goals this season which will make him a fan favorite. He added that overseas players like Brazilian Santos Jr., 27, and Australian Madaschi are very important to United for their diverse soccer backgrounds.
“The foreigners will do a good job this year,” Byun said.
Madaschi, is expected to tighten up one of the weaker dimensions of Jeju’s play. With star defender Hong Jeong Ho, 22, playing for the national team, he often misses United games to represent Korea, leaving a big gap in center field.
With both Madaschi and Hong on the roster, there will be a strong player on defence every game, and the team will only benefit more with the two on the pitch at the same time.
“The two men will be key defenders,” Byun said.
Jeju is off to Japan on Friday for six exhibition games with J-League teams, and will return mid-February to prepare for their March 3 season opener.
(Interpretation by Angela Kim)
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