In soccer, the phrase “playing the manager” is often used.
Obviously, it’s the 11 players on the field that make the difference between winning and losing. But it’s not uncommon for the coach who brings them together to change the outcome. Such was the case with Gus Hiddink at the 2022 World Cup in Korea, where South Korea’s soccer team made its mark on the world stage.
This year, “maneuvering magic” is all the rage in professional soccer. On April 4, the Pohang Steelers defeated Jeonbuk Hyundai 4-2 in the Korean Football Association (FA) Cup final to reach the top for the first time in 10 years.
Pohang came into the final with the odds stacked against them. With a number of key players injured, including Baek Sung-dong, Jeong Jae-hee, Oberdan, and Wandelsson, the team returned to the field after a hard-fought penalty shootout in the FA Cup quarterfinals the previous day, compared to Jeonbuk, who were able to finish the same match in regular time.
However, the result was the opposite. Pohang went down 0-1 to Jeonbuk’s Song Min-kyu in the 17th minute, but Han Chan-hee equalized in the 44th minute to bring the game back to 1-1. In the second half, Pohang conceded a penalty kick to Jeonbuk’s Gustavo, but a goal relay by Zeca, Kim Jong-woo, and Hong Yun-sang secured the victory.
The players agreed that it was thanks to their mercenary tactics that changed the tide of the game at every juncture. When Jeonbuk’s intense pressure shook their flank defense, they quickly responded by switching the positions of their left and right fullbacks. In the 11th minute of the second half, when the score was 1-2, they introduced Shim Sang-min and Hong Yun-sang to exploit their weaknesses.
Hong Yun-sang said, “Moving as the coach said opened the way,” and veteran defender Shin Kwang-hoon emphasized, “Actually, before I met the coach, I thought the players had to play well to win, but now I realize that Pohang soccer is a coach’s game.” In response to the players’ praise, Kim said, “The main character is not me, but the players,” adding, “The results came about because the players followed me well.”
In contrast to Kim’s humility, the “maneuvering magic” has also proven to be cost-effective, which has been a strength throughout the season. Pohang’s report card defies the conventional wisdom that investment and performance are proportional. As of 2022, Pohang is ranked 11th out of 12 teams in terms of salary by the Korean Football Association, but this year they finished second in the K League 1 and won the FA Cup. This is because Pohang has created an environment where younger players can be developed at a lower cost and veterans can showcase their skills.
Pohang head coach Lee Jong-ha acknowledged Kim’s efforts to maximize efficiency with limited resources, saying, “Even this year, the 50th anniversary of the team’s founding, the budget hasn’t changed much.” “The club recognized me, and the players believed in me and followed me,” Kim said, adding, “That’s what united us and brought us this far.”
Kim now sets his sights on the Asian stage. The team’s three wins in the Asian Champions League (ACL) group stage have given them hope that they can 메이저사이트 challenge for the ACL title they narrowly missed out on in the final two years ago. “We only need one win in the group stage to advance to the round of 16,” Kim said. “From the tournament onwards, we don’t know what will happen in every game. We will once again look up and run.”