|(Photo = Ulsan Hyundai coach Hong Myung-bo and Lee Cheong-yong / Korea Professional Football Federation)|
[데일리스포츠한국 우봉철 기자] Director Hong Myung-bo expressed his thoughts on Ulsan’s ‘Autumn Trauma’ as “different from before”.
On the 28th, Hana OneQ K-League 1 2021 Final A Media Day was held at Nuuri Dream Square in Sangam-dong, Seoul. This event was held in a non-face-to-face videoconference method to comply with COVID-19 quarantine regulations. In the presence of the leaders and players of the six teams that advanced to the Final A, coach Hong Myung-bo and Lee Cheong-yong lit up at Ulsan Hyundai.
This season, Ulsan is challenging the K-League 1 championship for the first time in 16 years. They maintained the top spot throughout the season, but lost 1-2 to Seongnam FC in the final match of the regular round, allowing Jeonbuk to share the points. In addition, the situation was down to 2nd place after being pushed back in the high score. Following the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) semi-final against Pohang, they lost to Jeonnam on the 27th in the FA Cup semi-final, missing two potential championship trophies in an instant. Now is the time to bet everything on the league.
Manager Hong Myung-bo said, “I haven’t been able to win all three of the last three matches, but the biggest problem is that I can’t play.” In fact, Ulsan has played 4 matches in the last 10 days. No matter how thick the squad is, physical problems will inevitably appear. Manager Hong said, “The first match of Final A will be played in three days, and I think that if the physical part is well resolved, I will be able to show the image I have shown so far.” It was expected that the physical burden would be relieved because there was a sufficient rest period on a regular basis. Concerning the worried gaze towards the team atmosphere amid the continued defeat, he dispelled concerns by saying, “It’s better than ever.”
The captain Lee Cheong-yong, who was also in attendance, said, “Last week was a painful week for Ulsan.” “The fans must have been in pain just like the players. I know that feeling well, so I have the idea that we shouldn’t inflict pain on the fans anymore. I will play the game with a great sense of responsibility.”
The team that Ulsan must hold for the championship is Jeonbuk. It’s only when you cross Jeonbuk that you get closer to the trophy. However, what should not be looked at only Jeonbuk is the existence of Suwon FC, which has emerged as a red pepper unit this season. In the case of Jeonbuk, in their three matches against Suwon FC, they only got 2 points with 2 draws and 1 loss.
Regarding this, manager Hong Myung-bo laughed and said, “We won twice against Suwon FC and lost once. Were we not good at winning twice?” However, he said, “Suwon FC’s power is very good, and the players’ enthusiasm for their goals was very visible.” He continued, “Director Kim Do-gyun is also from Ulsan, and many of the players have experienced Ulsan. I thought that his attitude towards his team would be stronger than other players. I think we played a good game because we know our strengths and weaknesses well.” said.
As Ulsan was pushed to 2nd place ahead of Final A and at the same time, the story of ‘autumn trauma’ is coming out again. For the past two years, Ulsan entered Final A with a point lead over Jeonbuk, but allowed them to come from behind.
Manager Hong Myung-bo said, “I saw that part from the outside and now I’m experiencing it inside. We lost matches repeatedly during this period, but in a way, it’s because we can’t play.” He said, “I played more than 40 games this year. The most matches,” he mentioned again about his physical strength. However, he did not agree with the autumn trauma. Director Hong’s position is that this time is different. He said, “I think it’s different now than it was back then. The players and team culture have changed a lot. I think it will be a good opportunity to change the minds of many people depending on how we perform in this Final A.” revealed
Lee Cheong-yong also expressed his determination, “Comparing last year and this year, the team atmosphere is very different from last year. The Ulsan team had a difficult time in the fall, and I think this is the right time to change that mindset.”
Will Ulsan be able to end this fall differently from the past two years? Their first Final A match, Round 34, will be played at the Ulsan Munsu World Cup Stadium at 4:30 pm on the 31st.
Sangam = Reporter Woo Bong-cheol [email protected]