The 2023 Hana 1Q K League 2 season gets underway on Wednesday, 1st March with six games across the afternoon. Seongnam FC and Gimcheon Sangmu begin life back in K League 2 against Asan Greeners and Chungnam Asan respectively, while newcomers Cheonan City take on Busan IPark and Chungbuk Cheongju are away to Seoul E-Land. Gimpo FC will sit this round out. For all that and more, we look ahead to the 2023 K League 2 season opener.
#GYEvBUC: Gyeongnam FC vs Bucheon FC 1995 - 13:30
For what will be a repeat of one of the most enthralling and dramatic playoff matches in recent memory, Gyeongnam FC take on Bucheon FC 1995. The two teams met in the fourth versus fifth playoff semifinal in October with Gyeongnam coming out on top thanks to a late Tiago Orobó winner. The pendulum swung back and forth throughout but a 94th-minute header from the Brazilian saw the Roses progress. Managers Seol Ki-hyeon and Lee Young-min will be keen to get off to a good start this term. Interestingly, in four out of the five meetings from 2022, one of the teams scored three and went on to win the match.
Prior to opening day defeats in 2021 and 2022, Gyeongnam had a very good record with five wins and three draws since 2013. The Roses have started the season at home in nine out of the last 10 seasons. At K League 2 level, their record is played six, won two, drawn two, and lost two. Bucheon, meanwhile, have a record of seven wins, one draw, and two losses over the last 10 years. Away from home the record is played four and won all four with the most recent being a 1-0 victory over Chungnam Asan in 2020. Said win was also Bucheon’s most recent opening-day win. Last season, Bucheon began the season with a draw at home to Chungnam Asan. The aim for both Gyeongnam and Bucheon this season will again be promotion and the playoffs at the very least.
#CCFCvBUS: Cheonan City vs Busan IPark - 13:30
Cheonan City's debut at K League level sees them take on Busan IPark, one of the league's founding members. Cheonan's opening day record over the last 10 seasons reads won five, drawn four and lost one - at home, it's played four with two wins and two draws. Cheonan have been away from home on the opening day of the season for the last two seasons and so their most recent first day home win was in 2020, beating Cheongju FC (Chungbuk Cheongju) 1-0. Last term they began with a 0-0 draw away to Ulsan Citizen. As far as K League debuts go, the two most recent newcomers began with wins - Ansan Greeners beat Daejeon Citizen 2017 and Gimpo FC overcame Gwangju FC in 2022.
Visitors Busan IPark have an overall record of two wins, three draws, and five losses on opening day over the last 10 years. Away from home they have won just once since then, back in 2017 when overcoming Seongnam FC by a scoreline of two goals to nil. Last year the Royals got their season underway with a 1-1 draw away to Ansan Greeners. This year will be the team's first full season under Park Jin-sub, a manager who has won promotion from this division before. Park has overseen something of a rebuild with Lee Han-do the new skipper signing on a permanent deal, left back Choi Ji-muk coming in from Seongnam, Lim Min-hyeok on loan from FC Seoul, and Choi Geon-joo from Ansan and Brazilian forward Fessin adding extra impetus in attack. With promotion the aim, the Royals will be looking to get off to a good start.
#JDFCvANY: Jeonnam Dragons vs FC Anyang - 13:30
After finishing bottom of the table last season, Jeonnam Dragons will be keen to get off to a good start and put 2022 firmly behind them. Jeonnam begin the 2023 season in a similar fashion to how they began 2022 - with an opening day fixture with FC Anyang. Only this time the Dragons are at home, where they have only begun the season three times before over the last 10 years. Jeonnam’s home season opener record is two draws and one loss. At K League 2 level, the Dragons are yet to win on the opening day and their last win on the first day of the season was in 2018, beating Suwon Bluewings away. The Dragons have been busy in the transfer window with the likes of Choi Bong-jin, Kang Min-soo, Asnawi Mangkualam, Cho Ji-hun, Valdívia, and Lee Yong-jae all hoping to make their debuts.
FC Anyang have an overall opening day record of winning four, drawing four, and losing two over the last 10 years. Away from home, the Violets’ record reads won two and drawn three from five matches played. The last time FC Anyang started the new campaign away from home was in 2021 when they earned a 2-1 win over Gyeongnam FC. Last year they got the season up and running with a 1-0 win over Jeonnam Dragons at home. FC Anyang have won each of their last two season openers. There could be debuts for Ahn Yong-woo and Cho Seong-jun on the wings, Kim Jung-min in midfield, and Lee Tae-hee at full back.
#SFCvANS: Seongnam FC vs Ansan Greeners - 16:00
Seongnam FC begin life back in K League 2 with the visit of Ansan Greeners. It will be the Magpies' first match at this level since 2018, the year they won promotion. Seongnam ended that season with three straight wins, the last being a 1-0 win over Busan IPark. Seongnam have played at home four times on opening day, recording one win, one draw, and two losses. The club’s overall record since 2013 is winning two, drawing two, and losing six. The Magpies have never begun the new season at home at K League 2 level and in 2017 and 2018, Seongnam lost to Busan IPark at home in 2017 and then drew with the south coast club away from home the following year. Last season, Seongnam got their season underway with a 2-0 loss to Gangwon while their last opening day win was in 2020 when they beat Gwangju FC by two goals to nil.
Ansan Greeners, founded in 2017, have a record of winning two, drawing two, and losing two on opening day. Away from home, the record reads played two, won one, and lost one. The last time the Green Wolves played away on opening day they won, earning a 1-0 victory over Line 4 Derby rivals FC Anyang in 2020 - their most recent season opener win. Last year, Ansan were at home to Busan IPark and drew 1-1. There could be debuts for Brazilian right winger Gabriel Honório, striker Lee Keun-ho, Kim Jin-hyun who has joined from Pohang Steelers, Jeong Ji-yong from Gangwon FC, and Kim Jae-sung from Ulsan Hyundai. Last season, the Greeners finished ninth and so will be looking to get off to a good start in 2023.
#CAFCvGIM: Chungnam Asan vs Gimcheon Sangmu - 16:00
Chungnam Asan's fourth season opener pits them against Gimcheon Sangmu at home, one of the season's main contenders for promotion. The Owls have only begun the season at home once before in their short history, back in 2020 when Park Dong-hyuk’s men lost 1-0 to Bucheon. Last season, too, Chungnam Asan started the campaign against Bucheon but were able to come away with a point. The club’s overall record opening day is played three, drawn two, and lost one. The Owls have been busy in the transfer window and Coach Park could hand debuts to Róbson Duarte, Go Mu-yeol, and former Daejeon winger Park Dae-hoon while Lee Seung-jae has returned on loan from FC Seoul and former Pohang, Incheon, Ulsan and Jeju midfielder Kim Sung-ju has also joined.
Gimcheon Sangmu are back in K League 2 after just one season in the top flight. The army team suffered relegation last year after losing 6-1 on aggregate to Daejeon Hana Citizen in the playoffs. But, with a fresh batch of recruits, including Korean internationals Cho Young-wook, Yoon Jong-gyu, Won Du-jae, and Kim Jin-kyu to name but a few, Gimcheon will be seen as one of the main K League 2 title contenders this season. The army team have been away from home on opening day for the last three seasons, and the last away win on opening day pre-dates Gimcheon and goes back to 2013 - 3-0 away to Gwangju. As Gimcheon Sangmu, the team has a record of two draws on opening day. Last season, what was then Kim Tae-wan’s men started with a 0-0 draw with Ulsan Hyundai. Overall, since 2013, the army team has a record of winning four, drawing three, and losing three. In K League 2, the record reads played three, won two, and drew one. The army team's last opening-day win was in 2019, a 2-0 victory over Gangwon FC.
#SEFCvCHFC: Seoul E-Land vs Chungbuk Cheongju - 16:00
With a new manager at the helm, there's fresh optimism for Seoul E-Land this season. Under Park Choong-kyun, the Leopards begin the 2023 season at home to one of the two K League 2 newcomers, Chungbuk Cheongju FC. This is Seoul E-Land’s first home opener since 2019 when they lost 2-0 to Gwangju FC. The Leopards have won on opening day just twice, in 2021 and 2022 with away wins over Busan IPark and Gyeongnam respectively. Seoul’s overall opening day record reads won two, drawn three, and lost three and at home, it’s two draws and one loss. Coach Park could hand debuts to a number of new signings, including Vietnamese striker Nguyễn Văn Toàn, Brazilian forward Renan and midfielders Lee Si-heon and Park Chang-hwan.
Chungbuk Cheongju, then, will get their new era up and running with the trip to the capital and one of K League's more iconic stadiums, Mokdong - formerly the home of Bucheon SK and LG Cheetahs in the mid-to-late 90s and early 2000s. Chungbuk Cheongju have an overall opening-day record of winning three, drawing one, and losing six. Away from home, they have played five with four defeats and just one win - a 1-0 victory against Chunnam Youngkwang in the fourth tier back in 2014. Last season, they began the season with a 3-1 win over Mokpo in K3. There are several well-known K League names who could be handed their debuts by manager Choi Yun-kyum, including captain and goalkeeper Ryu Won-woo, former FC Seoul centre back Kim Won-kyun, one-time Suwon FC skipper Lee Han-saem, as well as Australian midfielder Pete Makrillos and wingers Paulino and Kogileswaran Raj.