Even if the aces leave, the grades are steady… The secret is ‘startup magic’
The only undefeated team in professional soccer K League 1, Pohang’s Kim Gi-dong,
brought in ‘underrated’ players and reorganized the team.
This season, Shin Jin-ho and Lim Sang-hyup easily filled the ‘vacancy’
“New faces can do better… I want to win this time.”
“It tastes like death. I am anxious about every game.”
Pohang coach Kim Ki-dong (52) 안전놀이터 of the professional football K League 1 (first division) said in a recent phone interview, “It is not easy to compete for rankings.” As of the 21st this season, Pohang is running second with 15 points (4 wins, 3 draws), following the “defending champion” Ulsan (6 wins, 1 loss, 18 points). Pohang is the only undefeated team among the 12 K-League 1 teams this season.
Soccer fans are calling Pohang’s propaganda ‘movement magic’. Major players have left the team in recent years due to reduced support from the parent company (POSCO) for the club. However, coach Kim has an excellent ability to bring out the potential of players and bring in players who are undervalued compared to his skills to reorganize the team. Nonetheless, coach Kim said, “If you say ‘mobility magic,’ the players probably hate it.”
Shin Jin-ho from Pohang moved to Incheon ahead of this season. Shin Jin-ho was the ace of the team last season with 14 offensive points (4 goals, 10 assists). Lim Sang-hyup, who was second in scoring (8 goals) on the team last season, also changed to a Seoul uniform this year. Coach Kim brought in new players he had been keeping an eye on. Midfielder Kim Jong-woo, who was recruited from Gwangju ahead of this season, started as a starter in all 7 Pohang games, and is being evaluated for filling the vacancy left by Shin Jin-ho.
Baek Seong-dong, who played for Anyang in the K-League 2 (2nd division) last season, is wearing a Pohang uniform this year and is recording 2 goals and 2 assists in 6 games. Regarding bringing Baek Seong-dong, who played only in the second division after his professional debut in 2017, coach Kim explained, “I needed a player with skills, a player who could receive the ball from the middle and quickly advance to the opponent’s camp.”
Manager Kim, who took the helm of Pohang during the 2019 season, finished the season in 4th place in the K-League 1 that year and finished 3rd in 2020 and last year. In 2021, they finished ninth, but finished runner-up in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League. Manager Kim said, “The new faces have not yet melted into the team’s tactics. The performance of key players such as Kim Seung-dae and (foreign player) Jeka has not improved yet,” he said. “We can do better in the future. I will try to win the championship this season.”
Pohang will play the ‘East Coast Derby’ with leader Ulsan on the 22nd. Coach Kim and Ulsan coach Hong Myung-bo (54) shared a room in the dorm when they were players because they were motivated to join the team after making their professional debut in Pohang in 1991. Manager Kim said, “Ulsan lost to Daejeon in the previous game, so the poison will be on the rise.” We will score more goals and win.” Since the start of this season, Ulsan and Pohang have allowed only 6 goals each in 7 games, recording the least goals among 12 K-League 1 teams.