Head coach Hong Myung-bo, who oversaw professional soccer’s K League 1 Ulsan Hyundai to a second consecutive championship, credits the players and fans for their dedication.
Ulsan, coached by Hong Myung-bo, defeated Jeonbuk Hyundai 1-0 in the 38th round of the Hana OneQ K League 1 2023 Final A on Wednesday at Munsusu Stadium in Ulsan, Korea, thanks to a goal from Seol Young-woo.
Ulsan, who had already clinched the title in the previous 35 rounds, had a pleasant coronation with a final victory in front of 28,638 home fans.
After the match, Hong, his coaching staff, and Ulsan’s players raised the K League 1 trophy high in the air to show their pride as ‘back-to-back champions’.
Captain Kim Ki-hee and Jung Seung-hyun, who stepped down from the captaincy last summer after being caught up in an unsavory “SNS racism” controversy, lifted the trophy together.
Jung Seung-hyun, who was included in the chat room during the social media controversy, was not disciplined for making racist remarks, but was removed from the captaincy as a moral responsibility.
The ceremony was also attended by the vice chairman of Ulsan’s parent company, HD Hyundai, who presented the players with their championship medals.
“It was a tough game, but it worked out as we prepared,” said Hong at the press conference after the ceremony. “A lot has happened in the past year. I’m even happier that we were able to win the final game and have a coronation ceremony in front of our fans,” he smiled.
“This is my third year in charge. During this time, Ulsan has grown from a team that always loses in important matches to a team that wins,” he said. “This year, the fact that we won a lot of points in rivalry matches was the driving force behind our victory.”
“It definitely feels real to lift the trophy today,” he said of being crowned champion for the second year in a row. “As I always say, this title doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to the club, the players and the fans.”
“It feels a little different to win the title again in a year than it did last year when we won it after 17 years,” he said, “but it’s great to do it two years in a row after not being able to do it for 17 years.”
“This win will be a great asset for Ulsan’s growth,” he added. “We are already planning a little bit for next season, but we will think about the next step after we finish the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League.”
“In the middle of the season, Jeong Seung-hyun had a lot of trouble with social media incidents,” Hong said of the trophy being lifted by Kim Ki-hee and Jeong Seung-hyun. “After the incident, I gave the captaincy to Kim Ki-hee to calm the team down. Both players have led the team well throughout the year, so we decided to have them perform the ceremony together.”
“We’ve been successful in marketing and crowd mobilization this season,” Hong said, “It’s hard to ask fans to come to a game when you can’t deliver fun and good results. The players and the front office have been working hard, growing, and it’s paying off.”
Meanwhile, Hong spoke about central defender Kim Young-kwon, who he nominated for the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award this season, saying, “He plays an important role in the football I play,” and “He is the best defender in Korea in terms of build-up. He played a big role in winning the title this year.” 슬롯게이밍