The front desk that shed tears of emotion, ‘King’ Motivation’s first victory…Pohang’s 50th anniversary of “Again 2013” is a perfect “narrative.”
The Pohang Steelers lifted the trophy for the first time in a decade, capping a perfect narrative for the club’s 50th anniversary.
Pohang, led by head coach Kim Ki-dong, pulled off a thrilling 4-2 come-from-behind victory over Jeonbuk Hyundai in the final of the Hana OneQ Korea Football Association (FA) Cup at Pohang Steelyard on Thursday. It’s been exactly 10 years since they last won the FA Cup in 2013. In addition, they have won five FA Cup titles in their career, tying them with Suwon Samsung and Jeonbuk Hyundai.
◇Winning the trophy after 10 years, players and front office ‘thrilled’
Above all, it was an upset victory. Pohang had a tight schedule. Starting on the 24th of last month, they played Urawa Reds (Japan), Jeonbuk, and Jeju United all away from home. In particular, the FA Cup quarterfinal with Jeju went to a 120-minute penalty shootout. Pohang struggled against Jeonbuk. They lost the lead twice, but scored three second-half goals to come back and win 4-2.
After losing back-to-back FA Cups in 2012 and 2013, Pohang didn’t think it would take this long to get back to winning ways. Some Pohang front office staff were in tears of emotion as the team lifted the trophy. The crowd did the same.레모나토토 주소
To top it all off, this year marks the 50th anniversary of Pohang’s founding. Coach Kim, the players, and the front office shouted in unison that they would lift a trophy this season. They didn’t just say that. Pohang stayed in second place throughout the season, chasing down leaders Ulsan Hyundai. However, the team lost momentum in the second half of the season due to a series of injuries and failed to pull off the upset. This made them even more desperate to win the FA Cup.
There are only two players on the current Pohang squad who were also on the 2013 championship team. They are “captain” Kim Seung-dae and veteran Shin Kwang-hoon. Kim lifted the trophy in his first year, scoring the opening goal in the final. He went on to become captain of the FA Cup-winning team.
“I wanted to win the title on the 50th anniversary,” he says, “and after Ulsan won the K League title, I was the first to tell the players. I said, ‘Wake up and think about what you need to think about now,'” he said, adding, “Pohang always starts with low expectations and overcomes them. They are a perverted team. Pohang has its own strength. I told the players, ‘We are always the best in the K League. There are definitely a lot of players on the team who are good at soccer and have good ideas,” he said with affection.
Shin Kwang-hoon is equally thrilled. He has been a part of three of Pohang’s five FA Cups (2012, 2013, 2023). “I’m proud because it’s a strange feeling. I think this win is the most memorable,” he said. “This year was also tough, but there are few years that are not tough. I think we overcame the crisis well. Pohang has its own spirit,” he said encouragingly.
It was also the first win of Kim Ki-dong’s coaching career. Kim served as Pohang’s head coach before taking over from Choi Soon-ho in April 2019. He quickly reorganized the team, which was in the bottom half of the league at the time, and finished fourth in the league that year. Since then, the team has finished in the top four of the league in all but the 2021 season. In the 2021 season, the team reached the Asian Champions League (ACL) final and finished as runners-up. Despite losing to Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia) in the final, Pohang showed its strength on the Asian stage.
On top of that, Pohang is not a team that invests as much as it used to. Last season, Pohang’s wage bill was only the 10th highest in the K League 1, but they’re still getting results. Despite a thin squad and constant player turnover, Kim’s flexibility and ability to maximize the strengths of his players has paid off.
Even before this season, the team lost midfielder Shin Shin-ho (Incheon United), a key player last season. Kim had a problem that he described as a herniated disk. But as usual, he found a solution. He used a combination of foreigner Oberdan, newcomers Han Chan-hee and Kim Jong-woo, and U-22 player Kim Jun-ho to minimize the gap.
“This is the first time I’ve won a championship as a coach. It’s a dream moment. Both the players and the fans had a great desire to win the title, and I think it will be a happy day,” he said, adding, “I think the main characters are the players, not me. I told the players, ‘I think I’m going to win. I’m confident’. I believed in them and they believed in me. I didn’t think about my ‘career’ while coaching. Winning doesn’t mean being greedy. I prioritized the players and showing them good soccer.”