Jeonbuk’s unbeaten streak was broken on the day ‘pedigreed’ Pohang had it all
‘Go away soccer without genealogy’, ‘We are Pohang’
These are the words on the placards that are always displayed with pride at Pohang Steel Yard. To put it mildly, the Pohang Steelers are the history of Korean soccer. Founded as an unemployment club in 1973, a decade before the K League, Pohang is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Since then, the team has produced countless stars, including Hong Myung-bo (head coach of Ulsan Hyundai), Hwang Sun-hong (head coach of the U23 national team), and Park Tae-ha (technical chairman of the KFA), won numerous trophies, built the country’s first dedicated football stadium and football performance center, and established a unique culture called the Steelers Way, which aims to reduce unnecessary fouls and protests and increase actual playing time (APT) to make the game more enjoyable to watch. Pohang is also the first city in professional sports to introduce a club-level Hall of Fame.
With such a great history and tradition, Pohang chose to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a home game against Jeonbuk Hyundai in the 15th round of the Hana OneQ K League 1 2023 on the 29th. As the only K League 1 match of the day, the spotlight was on the team.
With more than 14,000 fans braving the pouring rain and legends of Pohang’s era on hand, coach Kim Ki-dong, who spent his entire career in Pohang, said, “I can’t stay forever, but I want the players to feel proud of Pohang no matter where they are. I want them to show stronger cohesion in matches like today.”
The bench’s desire was reflected in their performance. To celebrate, Pohang pushed Jeonbuk relentlessly. In the first half alone, they attempted seven shots (four on target) and pressed hard. Their sharp attack, rhythmic transitions, and steady defense were all impressive. Everything but the goal. Zeca in the 36th minute and Baek Sung-dong in the 38th minute hit the post.
Jeonbuk, which has bounced back from a disastrous start to the season to go unbeaten in its last four matches (two wins and two draws), lost right fullback Kim Moon-hwan to injury in the 11th minute of the first half, which disrupted its strategy, but it fought back in the second half. “We need to pick up the points we lost to Pohang, Ulsan Hyundai, Daegu FC and Gangwon FC to get to where we want to be. We worked hard and are confident. We want to be the main characters when Pohang celebrates its 안전놀이터 50th anniversary,” said acting head coach Kim Doo-hyun.
But Pohang’s spirit was much stronger. They held on and it paid off. In the 21st minute of the second half, Ko Young-jun broke through the left flank and found the back of the net with a sharp shot. “We need to capitalize on our chances. We often missed the timing to go up, and we need to overcome that to be a strong team,” said coach Kim Ki-dong, who pumped his fists in the air. Pohang remained in second place with seven wins, six draws and two losses and 27 points, while Jeonbuk suffered its first defeat of the “acting regime” and seventh loss of the season (W5 D3 L3).