In the 2023 K League 1 ahead of the turning point, Pohang Steelers’ solid potential stands out. It is in second place, closely chasing behind Ulsan Hyundai, which is leading the way with ‘1st round’. 스포츠토토
Pohang, led by coach Kim Ki-dong (52), is good at winning. The point of cruising is that the ‘hero’ that decides the joys and sorrows in the game and the ‘unsung hero’ that silently plays its role are in perfect harmony.
Pohang, which ranked third last season, had a lot of trouble ahead of the 2023 season as the core of the midfield, Shin Jin-ho (Incheon United), Lim Sang-hyeop (FC Seoul), and Heo Yong-jun (Vegalta Sendai), who were responsible for the attack, left. There were concerns that this season would not be easy, but contrary to expectations, Pohang (34 points) and the K-League 1 halfway point (19 games) are currently running second after Ulsan Hyundai (47 points).
It was refreshing from the start. Pohang, which ran undefeated in the opening 9 games (5 wins, 4 draws), lost momentum after that, but recently it is showing off its fierce momentum again. Coach Kim Ki-dong’s ‘resources’ are highly regarded, but it was a result that could not have been achieved if the players did not do their part.
In the first half, the ‘hero’ was Go Young-jun. Ko Young-jun, a U-22 (under 22 years old) resource, played an active role last year as well, recording 6 goals and 4 assists in 37 K-League 1 matches. He has improved remarkably this season. He made up for his decisiveness, which was considered a weakness, and scored 6 goals and 1 assist in 18 appearances. In particular, he stood out more by breaking the net of strong teams such as Ulsan Hyundai and Jeonbuk Hyundai.
In the away match between Incheon United and Hana One Q K League 1 2023 Round 19 held on the 26th, they won 3 points without “Ace” Young-Jun Ko. Koh Young-joon injured his knee in an evaluation match against China after joining the U-24 soccer team during the A match in June, and needed a month of recovery.
Director Kim Ki-dong said, “When Ko Young-joon fell, I thought, ‘What should I do with the 22-year-old quota?’, but another ‘hero’ appeared in the chaos. It was Jeka. Jeka, who started as a frontline striker that day, opened Incheon’s goal after receiving Kim Seung-dae’s pass 12 minutes after the start of the match. It was a goal that brought the team to second place.
There were several ‘heroes’ in Pohang until the first half ended in second place. Baek Seong-dong, who first challenged the K-League 1 stage this season, is recording the most offensive points in the team with 4 goals and 7 assists. Lee Ho-jae, a tall striker, is also displaying a presence that is more than a ‘super sub’ by harvesting 5 goals and 1 assist in 18 games.
The existence of the ‘unsung hero’ who silently supports the back of the striker cannot be overlooked. Park Seung-wook, who does his part regardless of his position in the back, is a representative example. Director Kim Ki-dong said, “In fact, Park Seung-wook was the one who got the most criticism during winter training,” but added, “I get compliments a lot these days. Park Seung-wook plays many roles in the team, including right fullback and center back. When this player has a problem, it becomes more difficult. I think he needs some management,” he praised openly.
Brazilian midfielder Oberdan is regarded as the league’s best ‘unsung hero’. Oberdan, who wore a Pohang uniform earlier this year, is in charge of the air defense link in the third line without Shin Jin-ho. The attack development through short passes and the defense that breaks the pulse of the opponent’s attack are excellent. His stamina is also the best in the league. Oberdan, who ran nearly 12 km per game in the April 6 game index announced by the Professional Football Federation last month, was the player with the most activity in both K-League 1 and K-League 2. In addition, Oberdan (1881 minutes), who played in all matches this season, is a player who has been active on the pitch the most time in the league along with teammate and goalkeeper Hwang In-jae. He doesn’t have an offensive point yet, but he’s done his part to help his teammates shine.
Regarding concerns about Oberdan’s stamina, manager Kim Ki-dong said, “When I was a player, I played 37 games without substitution. Back then, he even had overtime and penalty shootouts. When I said that this was nothing, he said he would try it too,” he laughed.
After the game on the 25th, Oberdan expressed his commitment, saying, “I was able to continue playing because the coach gave me a chance,” and “I have such thoughts (a desire to participate in all games).”