Attention is focusing on whether the expansion of the quota for foreign players will change the landscape of the K-League in professional football, which celebrated its 40th anniversary.
The 2023 K League 1 (Part 1), which opens on the 25th, has increased the limit of foreign players for each club to six. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) changed the Champions League (ACL) from the Spring and Autumn Festival to the Autumn Festival and expanded the foreign player quota from ‘3+1’ (3 players regardless of nationality + 1 player from an AFC member country) to ‘5+1’ Haja also introduced ‘5+1’ in line with this. All of them can be included in the game entry (18 players), but simultaneous participation is possible up to ‘3+1’.
Until last season, K League 1 had a foreign player quota of ‘3+1+1 (Southeast Asian Quarter)’, but the Southeast Asian Quarter was absorbed into the AFC Quarter and disappeared in three years. Considering that the Southeast Asian quota has not been used so far, the foreign player quota has actually increased by two. As of the 22nd, the number of foreign players in the 12 K-League 1 clubs was 53, a significant increase from last season’s 40 (based on the first half). As the deadline for regular registration for the new season is March 24, it may increase further.
To date, Daegu FC is the only team that has filled all of the foreign player quotas. Ulsan Hyundai, Suwon FC, FC Seoul, and Gwangju FC are ‘4+1’, and Jeonbuk Hyundai, Pohang Steelers, Incheon United, Gangwon FC, and Daejeon Hana Citizen are ‘3+1’. Suwon Samsung and Jeju United had 4 and 3 foreign players respectively without an Asian quota.
Cesingya (Daegu), Martin Adam,스포츠토토 Baco (Ulsan), Gustavo (Jeonbuk), Ilyuchenko, Palosevich (Seoul), Ras (Suwon FC), Bultuis (Suwon), etc. expected to play a key role. Foreign players who changed their uniforms are also noticeable. Japan’s Jun Amano, who contributed to last year’s Ulsan victory, went to rival Jeonbuk and became the center of attention even before the start of the season. Jerso, who received the highest annual salary in the K-League last year (1.7 billion won), moved from Jeju to Incheon, and Mulich, who led Seongnam FC’s attack, moved to Suwon. New faces such as the Swedish duo Boyanich and Rubiksson (Ulsan), and Rafael (Jeonbuk), who came from the prestigious SC Corinthians Youth in Brazil and led the Urawa Reds (Japan) to the ACL championship in 2017, are also raising expectations.
As the number increased, the performance of foreign players was predicted, and attention was paid to whether the native scorer would be born for three consecutive years following Jo Min-gyu (Jeju at the time) in 2021 and Cho Kyu-seong (Jeonbuk) in 2022. Since 1998, there have been three times when a domestic player has been the top scorer for two consecutive years, but not for three consecutive years.
With Jo Min-kyu, who moved to Ulsan, and Cho Kyu-seong, who is aiming to advance to Europe, Lee Seung-woo (Suwon FC), Eom Won-sang (Ulsan), Kim Dae-won (Gangwon), Lee Dong-jun (Jeonbuk), who returned from the German Bundesliga, and Hwang Eui-jo (Seoul), who is temporarily playing in the K-League. ), etc. are expected. Among the foreign players, Adam, who joined Ulsan late last year and scored 9 goals in 14 games, stands out. Segingya, Gustavo, Ilyuchenko, and Lars are also explosive contenders.