Mota and Kim lead for the Steelers in AFC matchupThe Pohang Steelers will rely on Mota and Kim Jae-sung as the team attempts to win its second consecutive match against China’s Shandong Luneng in AFC Champions League group play tonight at the Steelyard in Pohang, North Gyeongsang, starting at 7:30.
The Steelers are currently sitting in second place behind Australia’s Adelaide United with one win and one loss. To secure a ticket to the round of 16, Pohang faces a must-win situation tonight.
Despite entering a crucial match, Pohang will not be at full strength up front. Former national team forward Seol Ki-hyeon is still recovering from a knee injury and will not dress for the game. Regardless, manager Waldemar Lemos is confident about his squad’s chances, because Mota and Kim have become a steady force on the team’s offense of late.
Having played for Chunnam and Seongnam in the past, Mota signed with the Steelers in the offseason. In a March 20 league match against Gangwon, he scored a hat trick and added another assist in the team’s 4-0 win. Showcasing his brilliance, Mota connected four of his six shots on target and managed to score on three of the shots. The impressive performance was reminiscent of his days with the Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, when he scored 31 goals in 79 matches between the 2005 and 2009 seasons.
“I haven’t completely adjusted to Pohang’s style of play, but I gained a lot of confidence from the hat trick in the Gangwon match,” Mota said. “I’ll try to carry the positive momentum into the Shandong match.”
If Mota is the threat up front, Lemos has a reliable force in Kim. The energetic midfielder covers a lot of ground and was a key member of the AFC Champions League winning season last year.
After participating in Pohang’s winter training camp, Kim’s right-footed free kick has noticeably improved. In the March 3 friendly match against Ivory Coast in London, Kim connected with Kwak Tae-hwi on a free kick for the second goal of the match.
In the season opener against Daegu, Kim’s corner kick led to a Noh Byung-joon header goal. In the March 10 AFC Champions League match against Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Kim’s right-footed free kick led to Hwang Jae-won’s goals.
“I’m playing with more confidence than ever before.
“Regardless of the opposition, I am confident I can play my style of football,” said Kim.
By Kim Jong-ryeok, Jason Kim [email@example.com]