Team K-League head coach Hong Myung-bo (Ulsan Hyundai) credited Lee Chang-geun (Daejeon Hana Citizen) with the key to the come-from-behind victory.
Team K-League defeated Spanish La Liga giants Atletico Madrid 3-2 in the 2023 Coupang Play Series at the Seoul World Cup Stadium on July 27 at 8 p.m. Goals from Anton (Daejeon) and Palocevic (FC Seoul), as well as a dramatic late goal from Lee Sun-min (Gwangju FC) in stoppage time, completed the comeback.
After the game, Hong said, “I’m very happy that the players were able to win with their hard work in front of a large crowd,” adding, “There were many fans who supported the K League, and we didn’t give up until the end. I think we were able to convey our gratitude to them even more by scoring the winning goal.”
“There was a difference between us and our opponent in the first half,” he said, “and I think the fact that we didn’t concede any goals other than one thanks to Lee Chang-geun’s saves gave us a lot of motivation in the second half.” “They changed a lot of players, and we thought we could turn it around with our experienced players,” he added.
On the day, Team K-League played mostly domestic players in the first half and foreign players in the second half. “We trained for about an hour, but it wasn’t easy to get the perfect performance,” Hong said, explaining that the most important thing was communication.
“We could have mixed Korean and foreign players, but we thought it would be more efficient to split them up for better communication,” he said. “Many players did well, but Lee Chang-geun in particular looked good as he prevented a few scoring situations. Overall, the foreign players did their best for 45 minutes, which was not the usual All-Star game,” he said.
Diego Simeone, who was also present at the press conference, mildly expressed his dissatisfaction with the officiating, saying, “I’m just kidding, but in a normal game you can catch a lot of errors because there is VAR.”
Hong didn’t mind the fact that the referee walked away without shaking his hand, saying, “I don’t think there’s anything to complain about in a friendly match.”
Interview with Hong Myung-bo
What are your feelings?
-I’m very happy that the players were able to win in front of a large crowd. There were a lot of fans who supported the K League, and we didn’t give up until the end. I think we were able to thank them even more by scoring the winning goal.
There was a difference in the first half. I think the fact that we didn’t concede any goals other than one thanks to Lee Chang-geun’s saves gave us a lot of motivation in the second half. They made a lot of changes and we thought we could turn it around with our experienced players.
Why did you choose to play mostly domestic players in the first half and foreign players in the second half, and which players impressed you?
- We trained for about an hour, but it wasn’t easy to get a perfect performance. The most important thing was communication. We could have mixed Korean and foreign players, but we thought it would be more efficient to split them up for better communication.
Many players did a good job, especially Lee Chang-geun, who prevented several scoring situations. Overall, the foreign players gave it their all for 45 minutes, which is not the norm for an All-Star game.
Seol Young-woo played the full 90 minutes and also played as a central defender.
-Timo’s withdrawal before the game left us with a gap in the defense. Timo’s 사설토토 position was also central defense. He could have covered 45 minutes, but he didn’t play. Seol Young-woo covered the shortage in a different tactical role.
What did you say to the team at halftime?
-I told them not to give up. On the other side, I emphasized concentration on set plays. We didn’t have time to prepare for the goal, so I asked them to cover well. I told them to stay calm because we can still score in the second half.
We even had a power analyst with us, so we were serious.
- I had a mental image of the opponent’s style of play. I told the players to do what was reasonably possible. In reality, it’s not easy to beat an opponent. However, it was possible to do our best. I told not only Korean players but also foreign players, and we were able to win.
What was it like to play under Simeone?
- I felt that there was a difference in level between us, especially in the first half. They were a very well-organized team.
After the goal that turned the game around, there was a ‘goodbye’ chant.
- I thought it was Ulsan. They had a lot of lights on and it was very nice. I was happy to win, but I was even happier to hear ‘goodbye’ at the end.
Simeone expressed his dissatisfaction with the refereeing.
- I don’t think there’s anything to be unhappy about, it’s a friendly game (he walked off without shaking hands).
On the difference between winning and losing with the national team.
I’ve never played against the national team. I’m happy that the players representing the K League beat a world-class team. When a world-class team comes to Asia and prepares for the preseason, our players were nervous. I didn’t personally like it. I think we drew a line in the sand and the result came.
Simeone singled out Bae Jun-ho as one of the players who impressed him.
- I think there was some pressure on him because he is a young player. His strengths were evident in the last tournament. I think he was a little bit intimidated today.