I felt sorry for the fans… It’s time to show them.”

Daejeon Hana Citizen’s goal for this season is clear. He aims to qualify for the AFC Champions League (ACL).

Daejeon left for Vietnam via Incheon International Airport on Tuesday morning. The team will conduct its first round of assembly training in Geoje, South Gyeongsang Province, and conduct overseas training in Hanoi, Vietnam, to begin preparations for the 2024 season.

Daejeon returned to the K-League 1 stage for the first time in eight years last season. It created a sensation by ranking second and third with its offense, regardless of league level. Even after the momentum had slowed down a little, it did not fall below the eighth place and confirmed its top priority, staying in the team early.

“Players were good enough to fulfill what they promised when they joined the K-League 1 last season,” Daejeon coach Lee Min-seong told reporters before leaving Korea. The first goal was to stay and succeed. Notably, I wanted to give opportunities to players who came together from the K-League 2, but I am satisfied that the players took the opportunity and made progress.”

When asked about his goal for this season, Lee, who remained cool-headed, saying that his goal was to remain in the team’s best performance in the last season, did not hesitate to call it “ACL ticket.” When asked about his goal for this season, he replied, “It is time to show off. Hana Financial Group is also showing interest in the team and making investments. Last year, I felt sorry to our fans when I saw Incheon United fans cheering for me away from the ACL. Wouldn’t he envy you? He promised his fans that he would have to leave the ACL unconditionally. If he sets a goal and makes efforts, he has every chance.”

In line with the goal of “ACL,” the team is steadily strengthening its players. It has recruited Kim Seung-dae, a striker who has deep experience and played in ACLs, and Hong Jeong-woon, a defenseman. Park Jin-sung and Kim Jun-beom, who will provide various options for the bench, have also joined the team. Additional recruitment is underway, as well as top-class midfielder in the league.

Lee expressed satisfaction with the current status of the transfer market. “I’m going well in line with my goal for this year. I’m talking closely with my club and the club is also actively helping me. Recruitment of too many players can also be a problem in terms of teamwork. As things are progressing as expected, there is nothing more to be desired,” Lee said.

When asked about veterans Kim Seung-dae and Hong Jeong-woon’s joining the ranks, he said, “They will exert a very good influence. Even during the training period in Korea that lasted for a few days, I felt that they were good players. They will play their role whenever facing challenges,” he said. “Kim Seung-dae is the best line breaker in Korea. He also highly appreciates his dedication in the field. Hong Jung-woon is a player who can lead the defense team without wavering. He will play a pivotal role when he moves back and forth between three-back and four-back.”

Daejeon will hold its second off-season training in Vietnam and then move to Kagoshima, Japan, next month for its third off-season training. The team plans to refine its tactics and teamwork in Hanoi and raise the level of completion through actual matches in Kagoshima.

The top priority for Lee is to reduce the number of lost points. “We need to reduce the number of lost points. If the organization does not improve in defense, we need to be alert to the possibility of relegation at any time,” Lee stressed. “We need not doubt the players’ skills. I just need to teach them well and refine them systematically. The number of lost points has been high for the past three years, but I will reduce the number of lost points this year so that they can rise to upper ranks.”

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