After a long winter without football, K-League fans around the country have been eagerly anticipating the start of the 2016 season. K-League Challenge side Seoul Eland gave its supporters a first glimpse of the club’s preparations for the upcoming season by hosting a ‘fan fest’ where the club unveiled its new signings and laid out its plans for the season.
During the ‘fan fest’, Seoul Eland, perhaps unsurprising for a recently-founded team owned by a clothing company, released its third kit in little over a year. The club’s kit designs too have been somewhat different from what people might expect from a standard football kit. Starting last season wearing a blue leopard print uniform, the team changed to a toned down dark blue kit for the second half of the season. As a result, fans could only speculate as to what to expect at this season’s kit launch. Held at Eland’s office in Gasan Industrial Complex, the launch itself felt much like a fashion show; the players’ moves choreographed as carefully as any set-piece on the pitch.
For the fans that came for the football rather than the fashion, there was a chance to meet Seoul Eland’s ten new signings. One of the players that fans were most excited to see was Brazilian Jonatas Belusso, who scored fifteen times for Gangwon FC last season and introduced himself with translation provided by new coach In Chang-soo. After that came a presentation from head coach Martin Rennie, where he outlined his tactical plans for the season. Rennie was very open about his tactical preferences for the season, with a 4-3-3 formation using box-to-box midfielders running past the number nine. Mobility up front will be especially vital as he’s pushing for heavy pressing in the opposition’s half immediately if the team losing possession in attacking areas. Rennie also talked about how the club had aimed to tighten up at the back by signing experienced defenders including former Korean international Kim Dong-jin, who Rennie described as the ‘Korean Maldini’.
After a short question and answer session, the players returned to the stage, having swapped their tailored Eland suits for football kits and training tops. In a flurry of music and flashing lights, the players took their carefully planned positions before unzipping their tops to reveal the new kit. A mix of diagonal light and dark blue stripes, the kit is more reminiscent of a tiger than a leopard, although it does still contain a faint leopard print motif. When asked their opinion on the new kit, the fans in the crowd shouted “Yeppeoyo” (Korean for ‘pretty’). It looks better than last season’s leopard print kit, but footballing traditionalists may opt for the more sedate white away kit instead.
The event was well attended and ran smoothly. Martin Rennie may have described an average season as somewhat similar to a stormy sea, full of the ups and downs that characterized Eland’s debut campaign of 2015, but deep down he will be hoping that this Seoul Eland’s season goes more smoothly.
Opening fixture: Seoul Eland vs Chungju Hummel icks off at 2pm on March 27.
Seoul Eland website (Korean only): http://www.seoulelandfc.com/