Incheon United (South Korea) defeated Yokohama F. Marinos (Japan) 2-1 in the fifth match of Group G of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Champions League (ACL) 2023-24 season at the Incheon Football Stadium at 7 p.m. on Monday. With the win, Incheon improved to 3-2-2 (9 points) and moved into second place in the group behind Yokohama (3-2-2 and 9 points).
Kim Dong-heon was the star of Incheon’s victory. He protected Incheon’s goal with several super saves, with one in particular leaving jaws dropping. In the 34th minute, Yokohama short-circuited a corner kick and Ewber took a spinning shot in front of the penalty box. It was a powerful shot to the top of the goal, but goalkeeper Kim Dong-heon was able to make the save.
In the 36th minute, a sharp cross came in front of the Incheon goal, and Mizunuma took a non-stop shot after a rush. Goalkeeper Kim Dong-heon saved it with his foot from a very close position.
After the match, Yokohama head coach Kevin Muscat said, “There were a number of times in the first half where the opposing goalkeeper made very good saves. If their goalkeeper hadn’t made several saves in the first half, we would have scored two or three goals.”토토사이트
We caught up with Kim Dong-heon in the mix zone. “It was the first time we played with older players and younger rookies. I thought we worked well together against Ulsan, so I wasn’t worried. We played as hard today as we did against Ulsan, so we were able to win.”
You can feel the improvement in your condition from a certain point. “At the beginning of the season, we had a lot of reinforcements, so we thought we had to do better than last year, so we didn’t play well. We conceded five goals in a league game against Gwangju and were sagging. The news that I was accepted into the army changed that. I thought, “I’m going to the army, so I can relax and go without getting injured even if I can’t play,” but as I continued to play, I got better and better because I was relaxed, and I think I was able to maintain it.
Kim Dong-heon is scheduled to enlist in the Gimcheon Commerce in December. The original enlistment date was four days, but it can be postponed due to the K League and ACL schedule. It will be accepted on a player-by-player basis, rather than en masse. Incheon has two upcoming matches against Daegu FC on December 3 and Kaya FC Iloilo on December 13.
According to Kim, nothing has been decided yet. “We haven’t talked yet. I haven’t said anything. I think the coach said what he wanted to say. I saw the news this morning that it was postponed. The director said he hadn’t seen it and asked me, ‘How was it postponed?’ I said, ‘Didn’t you see it?’ He said, ‘I didn’t see it. I said, “I haven’t seen it,” and he said, “You have to do it by the 13th. I said, “Let’s have a private meeting. I have to do some sneaking around,” he explained.
Q. You’re one step closer to the round of 16.
A. “It was the first time we played with older players and younger rookies. I thought we played well against Ulsan, so I wasn’t worried. We played as hard today as we did against Ulsan, so we were able to win.”
Q. The opposing coach praised you.
A. “I feel good and honored that a famous coach said that. If I think I have to play well, I don’t seem to be able to. I think I played better because I relaxed my mind.”
Q. What was the most memorable shot you blocked?
A. “No. 7 took a shot, and it was a no-turn. I was on the move and blocked it. I surprised myself, and I thought I was lucky.”
Q. What made you relax?
A. “At the beginning of the season, we had a lot of reinforcements, so we thought we had to do better than last year, so we didn’t play well. We conceded five goals in a league game against Gwangju and were sagging. The news that I was accepted into the army changed that. I thought, “If I go to the army, I can relax and go without getting injured even if I can’t play,” but as I continued to play, I got better and better because I was relaxed, and I think I was able to maintain it.”
Q. At the press conference, coach Cho Sung-hwan said, ‘I told you to delay your military enlistment. I heard that it was possible to postpone it, so I would like to contribute until the last Kaya game and enlist in the army. You said you requested a postponement.
A. “I haven’t talked to them yet. I didn’t say anything. I think the director said what he wanted. I saw the news about the postponement in the paper this morning. The director said he hadn’t seen it, and he asked me, “How was it postponed?” I said, “Didn’t you see it?” He said, “No, I didn’t see it.” I told him, “It has to be done by the 13th. I said, “I haven’t seen it,” and he said, “You have to do it by the 13th. I said, “Let’s have a private meeting. I have to do some sneaking around.”
(Does he want to run?) “If we procrastinate together, we procrastinate, and if we can’t procrastinate together, we can’t procrastinate. The military is a team effort. If I say I have to play by myself, I’ll be the only one who comes in late. I think we have to adapt together, but if there are several players who are going in with me, I’ll put it off.”
Q. To coach Cho Sung-hwan
A. “He trusted me a lot, and I think I’m in this situation because he trusted me. Even if I can’t rest a little bit, I will try to make a result that the coach is satisfied with.”
Q. If you play against Kaya on the 13th
A. “I will take it easy with the same mindset as now. It’s the last game of the season, so I think I’ll be more focused than today.”
Q. How would you summarize this season?
A. “At the beginning, I played very poorly. I had a lot of low self-esteem. Once we got into the troops, I relaxed and let go, and it’s been working out well. From summer to fall, we didn’t lose much and won a lot, so I think I feel better this year than I did last year. Until the FA Cup quarterfinals a month ago and the two straight losses against Shandong, I was worried about losing everything I had. Now we’re in a good flow again. I’m trying to stay focused and not let this opportunity slip away.”