After a crucial two-game series, the Pohang Steelers are at a crossroads.
Head coach Kim Ki-dong’s Pohang Steelers defeated Urawa Reds (Japan) 2-0 in the third leg of their Asian Champions League (ACL) Group J match on Thursday at Saitama Stadium in Japan. With its third straight ACL win, Pohang (9 points) consolidated its position atop the group. They further widened the gap on second-place Urawa (4 points).
Pohang is competing in three competitions. The league, the ACL, and the Korean Football Association (FA) Cup. In the league, they are in second place (59 points) behind Ulsan Hyundai (67 points). With four games left, the gap is eight points, making it virtually impossible to overturn. They’ll have to hold on to second place. Third-place Gwangju FC (57 points) is closing in on them. With the head-to-head coming in the final game, there’s no resting on their laurels.
Pohang won’t have much time to relax, as they host Jeonbuk Hyundai in the 35th round of the league on the 28th. It’s another away trip. There’s a chance that Kim will rotate against Jeonbuk. There is definitely a scenario in Kim’s head. Kim left the door open for a different rotation depending on the outcome of the two games. However, with the second spot under threat, he might not want to make a big rotation.토스카지노 주소
Next up is the FA Cup quarterfinal against Jeju United on January 1. If they win, they will have to play the final on the 4th. Pohang is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. They want to celebrate with a trophy. Coach Kim, the players, and the front office want it badly. Winning the league has become virtually impossible. Even on the winning side of the ACL, it’s not easy to beat Saudi Arabian clubs that have brought in top players.
The ‘variable’ is injuries. Pohang is currently suffering from a series of injuries. Oberdan and Wandelsson are out, and Baek Sung-dong has been out for a month. Even Shim Sang-min, who has returned, is not in perfect condition. It’s a good thing that Grant was included in the roster against Urawa after feeling back pain. Jung Jae-hee, who grabbed his hamstring after scoring against Urawa, is said to be pain-free and able to walk. He will undergo a medical examination after returning home. If Jung Jae-hee leaves again, it will be a significant ‘bad news’ for Pohang. Coach Kim’s worries will deepen.