Ulsan coach Hong Myung-Bo “We’re doing well despite the ACL tear, injuries, etc.”

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Ulsan HD head coach Hong Myung-bo was satisfied with the draw.

Ulsan drew 1-1 with Suwon FC on Friday at Suwon Sports Complex in the 21st round of the Hana Bank K League 1 2024. Ulsan remained second in the league (39 points) and missed the chance to overtake first-place Gimcheon Sangmu (40 points).

Ulsan took the initiative and controlled the game, but fell short in the finishing. After Uhm Won-sang had a chance in the third minute of the first half that was saved by goalkeeper Ahn Jun-soo, Ulsan failed to create any clear-cut chances. In fact, they allowed Suwon FC to counterattack on several occasions.

Ulsan had to settle for a point. In the 15th minute of the second half, Ataru opened the scoring with his concentration and good shot timing, but Suwon FC’s Kang Sang-yoon equalized in the 27th minute when he capitalized on a chance that came his way. Ulsan was unable to regain the lead and the match ended in a 1-1 draw.

Still, Hong was pleased overall. “Overall, it wasn’t bad to play with the ball in possession. It was disappointing that we conceded a goal even though we didn’t give them many chances, and that we didn’t have enough shots to create chances, but the rest was okay,” he said, adding that the offense and defense were not perfect but not bad.

On the current fitness level of the players, he said: “It’s a bit off. The players who rotate are fine, but the ones who keep playing are struggling. The central defense is more difficult because they are veterans,” he said.

Ulsan’s woes are compounded by the fact that there are many teams competing for the top spot, including Gimcheon and Pohang Steelers. It’s the midway point of the season, a far cry from the previous two years when Ulsan finished second by a wide margin.

“I think we’ll get a chance one day, and we’ll be able to capitalize on it,” Hong said of Gimcheon’s inability to reclaim the top spot. Honestly, I feel like I’m leading a team that’s stumbling right now. Four or five of the best 11 are behind us. It’s bound to weaken us,” he said, noting that the team has been coping well with the injury ward since June. He also admitted that the team will struggle in the buildup as their starting defense won’t be back until next week.

Foreign players have also been disappointing this season. Neither Kelvin nor Mateusz has been able to integrate into the team and 토토사이트 develop into a regular starter. Martin Adam, who played a big role in Ulsan’s second consecutive league title two years ago, left the team after mutually terminating his contract.

Hong said of Kelvin and Mateusz: “Mateusz is more of a defender than an attacker, and we play offensively, so I think his role is not enough. Kelvin would have played a support role if we had Rubixson, but I don’t think he’s perfect in terms of his performance right now.”

On the parting of ways with Martin Adam: “It was a mutual decision. He wants to stay in Europe and has family problems. It’s not easy to let a player go without a transfer fee in the middle of a contract, but after what he’s done for us, I think he deserves to be a free agent. It’s a shame that we didn’t have the same amount of time together. I don’t know where Martin Adam will end up, but I wish him the best of luck.”

This season has been a chaotic one, with Ulsan faltering, Gimcheon and Pohang rising, and Gangwon FC and Suwon FC following closely behind. It’s a season without an absolute powerhouse.

Still, Hong remained relaxed. “I think clubs have realized the importance of players, so player recruitment has leveled off a lot. In the past, good players only went to Ulsan or Jeonbuk, but now they go to other teams. Also, good managers like Kim Eun-joong of Suwon FC and Park Tae-ha of Pohang, who are starting anew this year, have become competitive,” he said.

“Last year, when we were winning by 10 points and then losing by 8 points, we were anxious. Now, I’m comfortable even though we’re down by one point. I try not to think of it as a negative,” he said. “The biggest high point was when we lost to Yokohama Marinos in extra time in the ACL (Asian Champions League) quarterfinals. Yokohama couldn’t recover after the final loss, whereas we recovered quickly and won without a slump. The players and fans would be upset if we didn’t win the game, but we overcame the crisis once, so I think we’ll go up when the injured players return,” he said.

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