Ulsan Hyundai’s veteran backup Lee Chung-yong isn’t worried about the ever-shrinking gap between himself and second place. He hasn’t lost faith in his team’s ability to win the title this year, just as they did last year when they lifted the trophy with a bang.
Lee’s team, Ulsan, drew 1-1 against Daehana Citizens in the 30th round of the Hana One Q K League 2023 at Munsoo Football Stadium in Ulsan at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Ulsan went down in the first minute to Daejeon Hana striker Kim In-gyun, but they equalized in the 30th minute with a penalty kick by Lee In-gyu. Ulsan came close to pulling off the upset in the final minutes, but were denied by a VAR decision and a missed penalty kick.
“The result is disappointing in that we could have scored more goals in the second half, but it’s meaningful that we showed a different look from the last game against Gwangju FC,” Lee Chung-yong told Best Eleven, “If we play like today, we will have good results in the future.” He was optimistic about the team’s situation.
Currently, Ulsan is facing a situation where the pressure is mounting. Gone are the days when they had a double-digit point difference between them and second place. The Pohang Steelers are already six points away from second place. There are still enough games left to determine the final winner, giving Pohang hope for an upset.
Ulsan, on the other hand, is worried. Ulsan fans know that a six-point gap is certainly not an easy one to overturn. However, they’ve had the heartbreaking experience of seeing that gap reversed many times. Of course, I have faith in the players on the pitch and in coach Hong Myung-bo, but the thought of what could happen makes me nervous.
However, Lee Cheong-yong, one of the most experienced players on the team, emphasized that there is no need to worry. “We know that our recent results haven’t been good, but that doesn’t make the players anxious or nervous,” he said. “We still have a point difference. And I don’t think the fans feel anxious every time we play. The players and the fans believe that we can do it again, just like we did last year when we came out on top.”
“For the past two weeks, the coach has been emphasizing the players’ dedication to the team, and we saw that today,” he said, adding, “Unlike the last game (against Gwangju), I saw a lot of will to win from our players in this match against Daejeon Hana. We still have a lot of important matches ahead, so as long as we maintain this mental state and performance, we are not worried about any team we face.”
Not only Lee Cheong-yong, but Ulsan also felt the disappointment of not winning the last match against Daejeon Hana. However, even the players who hadn’t played in the previous match were proud of their performance against Daejeon Hana. Most importantly, the team was able to wash away the regrets of the lethargic loss against Gwangju in Round 29.
While the team will have to be vigilant, the fact remains that Ulsan still holds the lead. Lee Chung-yong pointed out that being nervous or anxious is the fastest way to self-destruction. Moreover, having tasted the fruits of his labor once before last year, he was more confident than nervous. Ulsan’s confidence hasn’t waned lately, even if it has shown signs of slowing down.