Head coach Kim Ki-dong (52) of the Pohang Steelers, who celebrated their 50th anniversary, had quite a few worries going into the second half. Although Pohang is racing ahead with a good record (2nd place) that exceeds expectations before the opening, they were worried that it would be difficult to overcome the hot summer season due to their limited power. This is because when rivals added strength in the summer transfer market, Pohang had to wait for the return of injured players without signing.
It was unavoidable considering that Pohang makes up for the lack of budget with the transfer fees received from sending out key players every year. Pohang last year’s total annual salary (7.7 billion won) was only 10th out of 12 clubs. 스포츠토토 However, Pohang defended its 2nd place until the scorching heat subsided little by little. It is a flaw that there are more draws (4) than wins (3), but it is surprising that they are 8 points ahead of 3rd place Gwangju FC in an undefeated march.
The main character who blew away director Kim’s worries is, of course, Hong Yun-sang (21). A native of Pohang Youth, he advanced to Germany in 2021 and recently rejoined Pohang. Even before his debut, Hong Yun-sang left a strong impression on his fans. On the 20th, he was substituted in the 35th minute of the second half in a home game against Daejeon Hana Citizen and scored the winning goal to turn a 3-3 tie into a 4-3 victory. On the 26th, in the Gangwon FC expedition, he started and was responsible for the equalizer that ended the match, which had been drawn 0-1, with a 1-1 tie. Hong Yun-sang’s quick feet, scoring instinct, and connection with his teammates all stood out.
Coach Kim said, “He is a young player, but the quality of his play is extraordinary,” and “I think his debut score showed that it was not luck.”
In fact, Hong Yun-sang was one of the top prospects among his peers during his school days. The reason he transferred completely as soon as he moved to Wolfsburg, Germany on loan two years ago is because his extraordinary potential was recognized. Last season, another German team, Nuremberg, also played 26 games as a loan player, recording 7 goals and 9 assists. Hong Yun-sang said, “I could have stayed in Europe, but there were various problems, so I decided to go to Pohang with the idea of playing soccer in a comfortable place.” “There is no difference between Europe and the K-League. I run with a grateful heart every day,” he said.
Hong Yun-sang, who has established himself as Pohang’s new engine, also regained his Taegeuk mark. On the 28th, he was named to the Olympic soccer team composed of under-22 (U-22) players. The national team will play the 2024 Paris Olympics Asian qualifiers and the 2024 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers held in Changwon from September 6 to 12. Hwang Seon-hong, coach of the Olympic team, is also known to have paid close attention to Hong Yun-sang’s performance.