On the 22nd of last month. Incheon United wrote a great story. It was the first time they advanced to the 2023-2024 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League finals. Incheon defeated Haiphong FC (Vietnam) in a close overtime match in the Asian Champions League playoffs.
Advance to the ACL finals for the first time in 20 years since its founding. 바카라 It was a big slope. However, director Seong-Hwan Cho did not smile even once. Considering the various remarks I heard him make at the scene, this is probably what he was thinking.
‘I won, but it was very difficult. After giving up the first goal, we scored the equalizer and won in overtime. The score seemed comfortable at 3-1, but it was actually a very difficult game. I can’t believe we are playing such a difficult game against a Vietnamese team that is one step below Korea. I am already worried about the group stage where we will face stronger teams. And what about the K-League that immediately follows?’
Director Cho continued to sigh deeply, saying, “We should have finished it in 90 minutes.”
Three days later, Incheon played against Suwon FC in the K League. It was right after all the main players were deployed and they barely defeated Hai Phong FC. It was expected that Incheon would not be easy to win. However, Incheon won with Oh Ban-seok’s dramatic goal just before the end of the game, and went from 6th to 4th. Afterwards, Incheon lost 0-2 to Pohang but defeated Jeju 2-1.
Incheon’s current ranking is 7th. 11 wins, 10 draws, 9 losses, 43 points. 4th place Daegu has 44 points. Coach Cho said, “I will go all-in on the Asian Champions League after accumulating as many points as possible in the K-League.” Incheon has games against Gangwon, Suwon, and Ulsan remaining. Incheon’s desired ranking is 6th place in the Maginot Line for Final A advancement. If you make it to the top 6, you will at least secure a mid-tier ranking in the league and even worry about relegation will disappear.
Incheon recruited many high-priced players for this season. The budget for the athletes has increased significantly. Last year, the player’s annual salary was 8.9 billion won, but this year, it was reported that more than 20 billion won was invested, including transfer fees. The game content is inconsistent due to the dull counterattack strategy, but the mid-level evaluation is not bad as the team finished in the mid-table of the K League and even advanced to the Asian Champions League finals.
Incheon will compete in Group G of the Champions League group stage against last year’s Japanese professional soccer (J-League) champion Yokohama (Japan), Shandong (China), and Kaya (Philippines). A total of 6 games will be played home and away, and only those ranked in 2nd place will advance to the round of 16. Incheon may not be able to beat Yokohama, but they must absolutely catch Shandong and Kaya, and especially rush in with the determination to win at home.
Director Cho rarely smiles. Even if you win, your expression remains the same. Of course, it’s because of stress and worry. Even the players agree that they want to see the coach’s smiling face.
Laughter means joy, accomplishment, and (at least) fleeting satisfaction. The days of getting scolded for laughing are long gone. No one criticizes a person who smiles for not working hard. Laughing and crying with colleagues and comrades means sharing the same emotions and a strong sense of belonging. Laughing is not an expression of laziness, and crying is not an expression of weakness. Laughing and crying are just expressions of honest emotions.
In Incheon, the players smile (at least when they win), but the coach’s expression is always serious even when he wins. Only when the coach smiles can the players feel more comfortable and smile without worrying about what the coach thinks. So the coach can find some relaxation and the players can also feel less tense.
The reporter has known Coach Cho since he played as a fullback for Bucheon SK around 2000. Looking back now, it seems like he barely smiled from then on.
When will we be able to see Director Cho’s brightly smiling face?