“We’re at the bottom of the table, but we’re not thinking about relegation at all. I have a lot of positive thoughts that if we show good form in the second half of the season, we can not only stay up but also turn things around like last year.”
Lee Jung-hyeop (31-Gangwon FC) spoke to reporters after training at the clubhouse in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on the afternoon of Sept. 19. Although Gangwon is currently mired in a slump and in the relegation zone, he expressed confidence that the team will be able to rebound in the remaining season.
Lee Jung-hyeop, who joined Gangwon in the summer of 2021, is a frontline striker who has scored six goals and provided three assists in 61 appearances (35 starts) for the club so far. He was particularly impressive last year, although he didn’t receive much attention as the spotlight was on Kim Dae-won (26), who joined the ’10 (goals)-10 (assists) Club’ and Yang Hyun-joon (20), who won the ‘Young Player Award’, but he was constantly in charge of the frontline, creating threatening chances through his link-up play and post play that utilized his strong physicality.
Lee has had a tough time this season, however. He was sidelined with a knee injury in late February and was out of the lineup for over three months. He returned late last month and has played six games (three starts) in all competitions, but has only managed one assist.
To make matters worse, Kangwon’s poor goal-scoring form has left the club with the “disgraceful” distinction of scoring the fewest goals (11) among the 12 clubs in the K League 1, which puts a lot of pressure on Lee Jeong-hyeop, who has a lot of responsibility as a frontline striker. In addition, as foreign striker Dino (29, Independent) left the team by mutual consent, there are high expectations for him, so he is also under pressure.
“It’s true that there is pressure,” Lee admitted, “I felt really sorry for my teammates while I was away due to injury, and I wanted to come back as soon as possible to help them, especially in difficult times.” “I don’t think I’ve been able to help much yet, so I’m blaming myself a lot, and I focused on improving my physical condition by doing a lot of individual workouts during the break. I will try to be as helpful as possible in the second half of the season,” he said.
“First of all, we need to score to get out of the slump, but rather than thinking that I need to score right away, I have good teammates around me, so I will focus more on running forward as much as possible, fighting with the defenders and creating chances,” he said.
When asked what he talked about with new coach Yoon Jeong-hwan (50), Lee explained, “First of all, he emphasized confidence a lot, and when he looked at us from the outside, he said, ‘All the players don’t look confident,’ and he also said, ‘As we kept losing, I could see that the players didn’t trust each other because of the sense of defeat.’ So, he emphasized on creating an atmosphere for confidence and trust in each other, and to get out of the crisis through constant communication.”
He continued, “I don’t think anything has changed (from our previous time together at Ulsan Hyundai). The tactics, colors, and demands on the players are similar,” he said, adding, “If the players quickly accept what the coach asks of them, they will definitely be able to show a better performance in the second half.”
Gangwon is still struggling to escape the relegation zone, having gone eight games (two draws and six losses) without a win, including two straight defeats. They are in 11th place (2W, 6D, 10L – 12 points). They could drop to the bottom of the table at any moment. 안전놀이터 The team needs to turn things around quickly and show signs of life.
“I don’t think it’s going to happen overnight. However, there is still a lot of season left, so I think if we prepare well in the future, the second half of the season will be better than the first,” said Lee Jung-hyeop. “We are currently at the bottom of the table, but we are not thinking about relegation at all. “We are currently at the bottom of the standings, but we are not thinking about relegation at all. If we show a good performance in the second half, we will not only stay up, but also achieve a reversal like last year,” he said, expressing confidence.