When the final whistle blew, the stadium’s public address system announced a 4-2 home win, but Pohang Steelers coach Kim Ki-dong didn’t gesture. He simply watched with a smile on his face as his players hugged and celebrated on the pitch.
Pohang defeated Jeonbuk Hyundai 4-2 in the final of the 2023 Hana OneQ FA Cup at Pohang Steel Yard on Thursday to win their fifth title. Despite falling behind 0-1 and 1-2 to Jeonbuk, the team fought back to complete the upset. The championship ceremony was simple, but it was also special for Kim. It was his first title in his fifth season at the helm of the Pohang Legends since taking over in 2019. His previous best result with Pohang was a runner-up finish in the 2021 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL).
Even without winning the FA Cup, Pohang has been performing beyond expectations. Compared to Ulsan Hyundai, who have won back-to-back K League 1 titles, and Jeonbuk, who have consistently invested in their squad, Pohang’s squad size and treatment has been quite lackluster. Every time the transfer market opened, key players would leave.
However, Kim didn’t blame the lack of money or the environment, but made the most of what he had. He brought in players from other teams, such as Kim In-sung, Kim Sang-hyeop, Kim Seung-dae, and Kim Jong-woo, to motivate them and maximize the capabilities of the existing members, raising the team’s energy level. Gaps in strength due to injuries, discipline, etc. were resolved with clever tactics and strategies.
The FA Cup was no different. We lost nearly 8% of our strength, striker Wandelsson and defensive midfielder Oberdan to injury, but we didn’t fall apart. In the final, Han Chan-hee and Kim Jong-woo scored side by side, which is enough to prove Pohang’s power.
In the soccer world, there is an expectation that “Kim Ki-Dong’s soccer” will do the minimum in any situation. Fans aren’t happy with the results either. They expect the team to finish in the top three of the league, and they want them to go beyond that. It’s a lot of momentum and a lot of pressure for Pohang.
But in the end, they did it. “A well-fought second place is meaningless. We will fight for the championship until the end,” said Kim, who has been saying it out loud since winning the FA Cup. “I always dreamed of winning the title, and there was talk around me that (winning) would be the next step, but I didn’t look at my personal career. Good football came first for me.” No longer satisfied or complacent, Kim’s eyes are already on tomorrow. 토토사이트