2024 K League 1 Season Preview: What’s Ahead for Korean Football

Excitement Builds as 2024 K League 1 Season Kicks Off with Strong Contenders

The 2024 K League 1 season begins with 12 clubs stepping onto the pitch for a nine-month battle for the league crown. Among the familiar faces from last season, Gimcheon Sangmu is the lone newcomer from the K League 2.

Ulsan HD, formerly Ulsan Hyundai, aims for a historic third straight title after dominating the league in the past two seasons. Manager Hong Myung-bo’s aggressive attacking style led them to success, with familiar faces like top scorer Joo Min-kyu and fullback Seol Young-woo ready to defend their title alongside new signings Hwang Seok-ho and Ko Seung-beom.

However, Ulsan faces a tough challenge with a busy schedule, including a clash against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the 2023-24 AFC Champions League quarterfinals. Jeonbuk, bolstered by signings like Tiago Orobo and Kim Tae-hwan, seeks to reclaim their winning form after a trophy-less season in 2023.

Pohang Steelers, led by new manager Park Tae-ha, aim to recapture last season’s success following a runner-up finish in the league and a Korean FA Cup victory. Gwangju FC, bolstered by signings from Brazil, looks to build on their third-place finish.

Incheon United maintains their squad continuity in hopes of replicating past success, while Daegu FC eyes a higher league finish. FC Seoul, with Jesse Lingard’s arrival and new manager Kim, aim to end their trophy drought.

Daejeon Hana Citizen, led by solid signings, aims to improve on their eighth-place finish. Jeju United, Gangwon FC, and Suwon FC look to bounce back from a disappointing 2023, while newly-promoted Gimcheon faces challenges due to player departures mid-season.

The season will see each team play 33 matches until October 6, followed by a split into two groups for the final leg. The top six will contend for the title, while the bottom six fight relegation in the remaining five games. Ulsan begins their title defense against the Steelers, while Jeonbuk takes on Daejeon in the season opener.

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