The Pohang Steelers know that even a draw will put them in a favorable position to advance to the Round of 16, but they are determined to win.
Pohang will host Urawa Reds at Saitama Stadium in Japan on Thursday in their third match of Group J of the 2023-24 Asian Football Confederation Champions League (ACL).
Top of the table with six points after two wins over Wuhan Sanjin (China) and Hanoi FC (Vietnam), Pohang only needs a draw against second-placed Urawa (four points) to stay on top. With a win, Pohang is even better. Of course, a loss could potentially flip the standings in some cases.
Urawa is in third place in the Japanese J-League. Experienced Shinzo Goroki and youngster Tomoaki Okubo are expected to put pressure on Pohang.
Head coach Kim Ki-dong said at the pre-match press conference held at the same venue on the 23rd, a day earlier, “The first game is important when participating in the ACL. We got off to a good start in the first game two weeks ago. Now, every game is important. I think the game against Urawa will be a watershed for us to reach the round of 16. We’ve been preparing well, so I’m sure we can get a good result.”
Ko Young-jun, an attacking midfielder who helped Korea win gold at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games, also said, “We traveled to Japan with a lot of K League matches. It’s a Korea-Japan match. I want to get a good result against the Japanese team.”
Head coach Machiei Scorsa Urawa singled out Ko as a player who impressed him in Pohang. He said, “It’s really nice to be mentioned like that by the opposing coach. I will prepare well for the match and hope to bring a good result,” he said, vowing to win.
Pohang and Urawa have similar team styles. They play a passing-based game, chopping up possession and scoring goals. Of course, Urawa is more aggressive and tougher.
Coach Kim was also concerned about the style of play, saying, “When I watched the video (of Urawa’s game), I thought that there was a similar feeling to us overall, and the team moved in an organized manner.” Ko Young-jun mentioned defender Hiroke Sakai, who has played in Europe with Hannover and Marseille, and explained that he is the one to be most wary of.” 메이저사이트
The injury ward is also a concern for the team. “We’re not at 100 percent,” says Kim. At the beginning of the season, the younger players filled in well, but now we are missing Wandelsson, Oberdan, Grant, and Baek Sung-dong. It’s a difficult situation, but I believe the other players will fill the gap well,” he encouraged the players.
Kim is only looking for a win. He said, “No coach prepares for a game to draw. We prepared to win. Winning or losing is decided by the heavens. If you do your best and draw, I don’t think it’s a failure,” he said, predicting a strategic battle.
Ko, who is known to be a close friend of Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain) and would like to meet Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad) on the pitch, expressed his desire to reach Europe in an indirect way. The reason is that he is the most famous and expected player.