Incheon United head coach Cho Sung-hwan praised Kim Dong-heon for his saves in the win over Japan’s Yokohama Mariners at home to keep his side’s hopes of reaching the round of 16 in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) alive.
Incheon defeated Yokohama Marinos (Japan) 2-1 in the fifth home match of Group G of the 2023-2024 AFC ACL at the Incheon Football Stadium on Nov. 28.
Incheon, playing in the ACL for the first time in its 20-year history, followed up its 4-2 win over Yokohama in the first leg of the Group G match with another victory to sit in second place (9-3W, 2L) and improve its chances of qualifying for the Round of 16.
Goalkeeper Kim Dong-heon was the main contributor to the victory.
Kim was solid in goal, stopping three or four crucial shots from the opposition in the first half.
Yokohama had to settle for a scoreless first half despite firing five shots on goal.
Coach Cho Sung-hwan expressed his gratitude to Kim, saying, “I told him to delay his enlistment.”
Kim will join the Gimcheon Commerce on March 4.
Coach Cho said, “I want him to contribute to the team and join the army before Kaya (Philippines). I told him to ask for a postponement,” Cho smiled.
Incheon will play the sixth match of Group G away against Caya (Philippines) on March 13.
“In the last home game of the season, we did our best to give the fans satisfaction for this season and expectations for next year,” Cho said. “We had a clear goal of passing the group stage, so we united with the fans and created a good result.”
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned” about the performance of young players such as Hong Si-hoo and Park Seung-ho, but “the senior players who played in the previous matches led well, and the young players stood out more. I’m looking forward to next year. It seems to ease the coach’s worries,” he praised.
Meanwhile, Yokohama head coach Kevin Muscat said, “We played a difficult game after conceding the first goal of the game and handing the game over to Incheon,” adding, “It’s great that we played the way we wanted to play in the second half even though we were losing.”
“There were several scenes in the first half where the opponent’s goalkeeper made very good saves,” said Kim Dong-heon, who made several exciting saves in the first half. “If the goalkeeper hadn’t made the saves, we would have scored two or three points in the first half alone.”
“In the first 30 minutes or so, when Incheon dropped down and started playing, we had less space to attack, and we tried to drop our line and look for opportunities. It was just that their goalkeeper made a good save.”
As for whether Incheon’s field players’ changes from the first match and the cold weather, which dropped below freezing, affected their performance, he said, “It didn’t really affect our will to win or our performance,” but added, “The grass was not in good condition.” 토토사이트