“I’m very worried if (the late) Yeongjun goes.”
“Strategist” Kim Ki-dong (51), coach of Pohang Steelers, did not hide his concern when asked if midfielder Koh Young-joon (22) would be selected for the Asian Games in Hangzhou in September, while organizing the season plan. It was more so in that he was Ko Young-jun, who shook the opponent’s defense with a shiny pass or a cool shot right before the finish of ‘Steel Taka’.
As coach Kim said, Koh Young-joon, who graduated from Pohang Jecheol High School, a Pohang youth team, started as an offensive midfielder in the opening game of the Hana 1 Q K League 1 2023 against Daegu FC on the 26th of last month and shook Daegu’s defense. He showed off his performance, which was reborn as his 4th year professional, even showing clever moves to dig into his space.
Hwang Seon-hong (55), coach of the under-23 (U-23) national team, is full of faith. While checking players in various positions, he summarized Ko Young-jun’s appearance with the words, “because he plays well and comes out well.” He hints that if he runs steadily and maintains his performance, there will be no problem in being selected for the Asian Games.
In fact, Koh Young-Jun continued to be called to U-23 national team games last year. He also played a friendly against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ahead of the opening of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. He was also called up to the A national team and played against China at the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) E-1 Championship held in Japan in July. He made it known that even national team A is a resource that can be boarded as much as he wants.
During the winter training in Pohang, coach Kim used Ko Young-jun as a set-piece kicker along with Kim Jong-woo (30), who transferred from Gwangju FC. Mainly Kim Jong-woo will be kicked, but it shows that Ko Young-jun is not without value. He also remembers having fun as a corner kicker last year.
He said, “I think I’ll get a lot more set piece opportunities than last year. I think I’m more comfortable now than last year. There’s pressure, but it seems to get better as I go.” It is easier to understand,” he said, introducing that he had adapted to Kim Ki-dong’s tempo football.
Although it is a K-League with compulsory participation rules for under-22 (U-22) players, Ko Young-jun is a confident starter, so he does not have to play for 20 minutes in the first half. When coach Kim said that he would be worried if Koh Young-joon was absent during the Asian Games, he said, “(Park) Geon-woo, (Yoon) Jae-woon, (Lee) Kyu-baek, (Lee) Kyu-baek and (No) Kyung-ho will not worry about U-22. He boasted of Pohang’s players who came out like fire and water.
Of course, as those born in 1999 were allowed to participate in the Asian Games, it is too early for Koh Young-jun to be relieved. He said, “I don’t think it will be easier for me to go, but if I do well while playing, coach Hwang Seon-hong will be watching me, so I want to believe that if I do well in the team, opportunities will come.”
Dissatisfaction with oneself acts as a driving force for development. Koh Young-joon says that at his team meeting, when his mistakes or wrong moves come out, he can’t lift his head. It’s more so because director Kim pointed out exactly. He showed humility, saying, “Even during meetings, when I watch the video, I feel that my performance is not satisfactory. You know everything when you watch the video.” He continued, “The video and satellite navigation system (GPS) records don’t lie. It comes out just the way I do it. It’s really embarrassing”, explaining why being lazy is a luxury. 안전놀이터
Last year, Ko Young-jun scored 6 goals and 4 assists in 37 games. His attack points are in double digits. So he raised his goal higher. As he lost weight, he also focused on taking care of his body. He said, “I set my personal goal higher than last year. I just need to achieve that goal. The other players are playing really well, so I always think that I just have to do well. I feel it while playing, but I just have to wake up and not make mistakes. Pohang is a good team. There are many cases where I feel things, so I think that if I do well,” he said, showing his will to run until he is satisfied.
There was also learning from Oh Hyun-gyu (Celtic). Oh Hyun-gyu saved Suwon Samsung from relegation by pushing his head just before the second half of extra time in the second round of the promotion playoff against FC Anyang last year to score the winning goal. He went through the World Cup as a reserve player and later joined Celtic.
He said, “I’ve seen the promotion PO, but I don’t want to experience that kind of experience. After experiencing that kind of experience someday, I’ll be more relaxed. So during the season, I think I’ll be desperate not to experience it (for good grades).” He confided that he was even equipped with KANG.