Home Sports ‘Veteran Power’ Pohang Steelers advance to ACL semifinals

‘Veteran Power’ Pohang Steelers advance to ACL semifinals

by news dir
The Pohang Steelers defeated Nagoya Grampus (Japan) and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL). A lot of key players left the transfer market, but we look forward to winning the ACL thanks to the performances of veterans.

Pohang won the ACL quarterfinals 3-0 against Nagoya at Jeonju World Cup Stadium on the 17th. Pohang, which has advanced to the ACL semifinals for the first time in 12 years, will face a fierce battle for the top of the ACL with Ulsan, the ‘ACL defending champion’ and East Coast rival.

Pohang overcame the baseline with Im Sang-hyeop’s preemptive goal, which broke out in the 8th minute of the second half. Then, in the 25th minute of the second half, Lee Seung-mo’s valuable additional goal brought the atmosphere completely. In the second half of extra time, the fantastic goal of the team was a blast that ended the game.

The distinguished player of the game was, of course, Im Sang-hyeop (33). Im Sang-hyeop, who experienced the worst period of his career over the past two seasons, is enjoying his second heyday with coach Kim Ki-dong this season.

Im Sang-hyeop, who moved from Suwon Samsung to Pohang before this season, had the worst time of his career over the past two seasons. In Suwon Samsung and Jeju, Im Sang-hyeop has been reduced to a ‘out-of-date player’ after its heyday, unable to even compete in games. It was rare to see the clinical consultation at the stadium, and it was forgotten in the memory of the fans.

Then came the turning point. Im Sang-hyeop again showed off his presence by wearing the Suwon uniform and making a surprise appearance in the ACL in the 2020 season, which was his last chance.

Im Sang-hyeop, who joined Pohang as a free agent at the end of the 2020 season, rose to the 15th goal of his career with 10 league goals, 1 FA Cup goal, and 4 ACL goals this season. At every important moment, Pohang had an efficient solution called Clinical Cooperatives. This is the reason why Pohang is doing well in the ACL even though the resources responsible for Pohang’s attack power, such as Song Min-kyu and Ilyuchenko, are gone.

If there was a Lim-hyeop in the attack, there were Shin Kwang-hoon (34) and Shin Jin-ho (33) in the midfield. Shin Kwang-hoon, who made his debut in Pohang in 2006, left Pohang in 2016 and returned to Pohang after 5 years. After playing FC Seoul and Gangwon FC, he is said to have passed his heyday, but he is still like the team’s Altoran based on the advantage of being able to play various positions. In the last group stage match against Nagoya, he was the cause of the team’s devastating defeat, but in the quarterfinals against Nagoya, he showed 80% pass success rate and two successful tackles.

Shin Jin-ho, who formed a midfield partner with Shin Kwang-hoon, also showed the best performance as a midfield ruler, with 83 passes, 2 assists, and 2 successful competitions, the most in the game. Shin Jin-ho, who made his debut in Pohang in 2011, lifted the ACL trophy with his rival Ulsan until last season. Previously, he played in the Qatar League and FC Seoul. Shin Jin-ho, who returned to his parents’ home, is aiming for the ACL trophy in Pohang this season.

The performance of veteran players in big games is one of the essential requirements for victory. A veteran’s experience is a stronger weapon than anything else. Of course, Pohang is not just a team with veterans. Young players such as Lee Seung-mo (23), Ko Young-jun (20) and Park Seung-wook (23) are also showing their talents. Kang Sang-woo (28) and Kwon Wan-gyu (29) are also in their prime and hold the center of the team.

Above all, this harmony was possible thanks to the leadership of director Kim Ki-dong. Coach Ki-dong Kim, who reached the top of Pohang and the ACL as a player 12 years ago, is now a leader and looks to the top. Now, the eyes of Youngilman men are directed to Ulsan, the ‘East Coast rival’.

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