Coach Hong Myung Bo, who really meant it when he said “Sulleung X,” let his teammate Seol Young-woo play full-time.

“The way we usually play the All-Star Game is to take it easy and flounder around, and I didn’t like that. It wasn’t a strong atmosphere, but I drew a clear line and demanded effort from the players.”
Hong Myung-bo (54), head coach of Ulsan Hyundai, was serious about the All-Star Game. While it was important to provide fans with a variety of entertainment, he also wanted to give them good memories of the game. And it worked. Team K League came from behind to win 3-2 in the first leg of the Coupang Play Series against three-time La Liga champions Atletico Madrid (Spain) at the Seoul World Cup Stadium on Sunday. Team K League’s Lee Sun-min (Gwangju FC) scored a dramatic winner in second-half stoppage time.

Although it was an event match, Hong had prepared thoroughly for this game. It was like a regular league schedule. He even brought a power analyst with him, and gave his players a clear goal: to do their best, not just win. After the game, Hong said, “Overall, we tried to know the opponent’s playstyle and image. I also told the players to do what is reasonably possible. It’s not easy to say, ‘Let’s beat Atletico,’ but realistically, we can show that we’re doing our best. I said this not only to the Korean players but also to the foreign players. As a result, we played a winning game.”

Hong didn’t just give his players a verbal pep talk; he also showed his commitment to the game by starting one of his own, Seol Young-woo, full-time. Gwangju defender Timo, who had been selected for the Team K League before the game, tested positive for COVID-19 and was unexpectedly ruled out of the Atletico game. With one player out, someone had to step up and play full-time, and Hong chose Seol Young-woo. Seol played the first half at right fullback and the second half at center back. It’s not an easy choice considering Ulsan’s league form and the tight schedule ahead. Players from other clubs could have filled Seol’s role. But Hong made a bold decision for the All-Star Game. 꽁머니

“When we lost Timo before the game, it left us with a hole in our defense. Timo’s position is central defense. He can play 45 minutes. We tried to fill the gap by using Jeong Tae-wook (Jeonbuk) and players in other positions. Seol Young-woo covered well with his tactical ability.”

Splitting the squad between the first and second halves was also a tactical choice. All 11 of Team K’s starters were domestic players. The second half featured more foreign players. “We trained for about an hour, but it was hard to transfer everything to the game. In the end, communication was the most important thing. We could have mixed domestic and foreign players in each position, but we divided the playing time for better communication. We thought it was more efficient,” Hong emphasized.
Hong’s sincerity was also conveyed to the players in the halftime meeting. “I told them not to give up, especially on set plays.

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