The “maneuvering magic” began when Kim Ki-dong took the helm of the Pohang Steelers in late April 2019. He led the team to a fourth-place finish after hovering at the bottom of the table at the start of the season. In the 2020 season, they finished third and qualified for the Asian Champions League (ACL). At the time, Kim made history as the first manager to win the coach’s award with a third-place team in the K League 1.
He continued to be a “sensation” in 2021. The team finished ninth in the K League, but were runners-up in the ACL. Unfortunately, they were unable to overcome Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia) at the final gate, but Kim’s leadership for three years was remarkable.
But Kim also needed a win to take his coaching career to the next level. “I actually didn’t think about my coaching career during that time. I was only thinking about how to make the players enjoy soccer and how to make the fans enjoy it. But people around me said, ‘That’s not enough,’ ‘You need to be a winning coach to take the next step,’ they said. I was greedy, but I couldn’t be greedy alone. I needed the players to follow me, and as a result, they trusted me and followed me. I think the priority is always to try to create good soccer with the players.”
Kim’s coaching career has been upgraded in his four years in charge. For the first time, he has added ‘winning’ to his resume. Pohang won the 2023 FA Cup final against Jeonbuk Hyundai 4-2 on Thursday at Pohang Steel Yard to lift the trophy for the first time in 10 years since 2013.
The secret to Kim’s victory was “mildang” (push and pull). Pohang has some younger players, but most of them are in their early to mid-30s. Managing the psychology and physical condition of players with more than 10 years of professional experience is a basic task for a coach. Kim stuck to the basics. As a result, he naturally began to build trust with his players. Many players said, “I got good results by following the coach’s orders.”
He brought players who had underperformed in their previous teams to Pohang and revived them with stimulation, and was not afraid to utilize young players, and the synergy of the past four years has resulted in the FA Cup victory. Moreover, this year’s victory was even more meaningful as it was the 50th anniversary of the club’s founding. 무지개토토 도메인
Above all, Kim’s wisdom is unique. Despite having to transfer key players every year to make up for the club’s deficit, he brings in replacements and transforms them into players who fit Pohang’s style. A good example is midfielder Kim Jong-woo, 30, who scored the winning goal in the FA Cup final and was named MVP. “Jong-woo was the only player who wore the number 6 and didn’t do well (laughs). Before the FA Cup final, I asked him, ‘Have you scored a goal this year?’ He said, ‘I haven’t.’ He was more of a ‘bean’ than a ‘king,’ but I thought he would score a goal in the last game, and he did,” Kim said, sharing a funny story behind the goal.