Gwangju coach Lee Jung-hyo’s pride is ‘mysterious’ as players talk about Gwangju football

“We’ll play the same soccer against Man City and Arsenal.”

Gwangju FC coach Lee Jung-hyo (49) is proud of his soccer. The so-called “Gwangju soccer,” which made its debut in the K League 1 last year, was a sensation. At the time, Gwangju had just been promoted as the K League 2 (2nd Division) champions. They were considered the underdogs before the start of the season. Gwangju broke the common sense of the K League. In the past, many teams categorized as underdogs in the K-League have utilized the “pay-to-play” strategy. Lee’s Gwangju was not one of them. He shouted ‘attack’. The way they attacked was also different from the previous ones. Gwangju actively attacked the flanks and half-space. They utilized a very aggressive tactic to win the numbers game and gain a lot of possession. Gwangju’s momentum was fierce. Last year, they defied expectations and finished third in the K League 1. The club also qualified for the Asian Champions League (ACL) for the first time since its inception. Gwangju’s soccer has been labeled as the “Jeong Hyo-ball.

The curtain has risen on the second season. Gwangju started the year with two straight wins against FC Seoul and Gangwon FC in their opening two matches, raising expectations. However, the momentum didn’t last long. Gwangju went on a six-game losing streak from March 17 against the Pohang Steelers (0-1) to April 17 against Suwon FC (1-2). It was a shocking losing streak, even with back-to-back dismissals against Incheon United on April 3 and Gimcheon Commerce on April 6.

What was remarkable was the way Lee showed up during the losing streak. He didn’t change the way he played soccer during the losing streak. There was no long ball attack, no emphasis on defense, etc. Gwangju dominated possession during the six-game losing streak, with the exception of Gimcheon. Against Incheon, they lost despite having an overwhelming 74% possession advantage. Pohang and Gimcheon were the only teams to be out-shot. On the field, “Even though they are on a losing streak, Gwangju plays the best soccer in the K League. It’s the most entertaining soccer.”

Gwangju maintained the ‘Jeonghyo Ball’ even against strong teams. Gwangju won 2-1 against Ulsan HD in the eighth round of the Hana Bank K League 1 2024 at the Gwangju Football Stadium on the 15th. Park Tae-joon and Lee Kang-hyun scored consecutive goals to secure the victory. Coach Lee said, “This is Gwangju’s second year in the K League 1. Our colors don’t change against any team. Even if we play Man City or Arsenal, we will play the same soccer. We will continue to play our colors, play driven football, be aggressive and create chances to score goals.”

In fact, the goals on the day were the epitome of the ‘Chung Hyo Ball’. Both goals were scored by a player who created space with a pass and found himself in an open area. Park Tae-joon’s first goal took four passes to complete. For Lee’s 토토사이트 second goal, the team lost the numbers game, so he created space to buy time, and the player who didn’t have the ball in the meantime moved to finish. The details were different, but the overall concept was the same.

“He’s a master of details,” says Park. “You’re like, ‘You’re going to tell me about this? One of the important parts is off the ball. The person who catches the ball is important, but the movement of the people around him is more important. The coach said, ‘The three-way connection is basic. We have to do something else’. I can’t tell you more about the tactics because they’re secret. He compares us to the English Premier League (EPL) and the Spanish Primera Liga. I think our standards are getting higher,” he explained.

“I think they play EPL soccer, which is the best soccer in Europe. It’s really fun. It’s also mysterious. It’s not a specific player, but all 11 players, even the goalkeeper, have to be good. Everyone has to be on the same page. Every player has to know what to do in every position. The player without the ball is more important. It”s about finding space. I think space is the most important thing for the coach,” he added. Gwangju’s players fully believed in the ‘Chung Hyo Ball’. Kim Kyung-min said, “Gwangju’s soccer is fun to watch, and so are the players. Their aggressive soccer is very attractive.”


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