Ahn’s aim: Help shaky Chunnam

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Ahn’s aim: Help shaky Chunnam

MIYAZAKI, Japan - Defender Ahn Jae-joon, who was traded by Incheon United to the Chunnam Dragons during the offseason, said he is eager to improve the shaky Dragons defense in the upcoming season.

Defense was more of a problem for Chunnam last season than their offense, which scored 40 goals and ranked sixth overall.

The Dragons defense, however, gave up 49 goals, pushing the team down to 10th place in the 15-team league with eight wins, eight draws and 12 losses.

There are signs that the Dragons will have an improved defense in the upcoming 2011 K-League season. During the team’s offseason training camp in Miyazaki, Japan, Chunnam has allowed just three goals and is undefeated with four wins and one draw.

And in its final training-camp friendly match, Chunnam defeated Sanfrecce Hiroshima, 2-1, to conclude its training camp undefeated.

Manager Jung Hae-sung stressed that it’s more important for his team to focus on allowing fewer goals than to play not to lose.

Team officials are excited about the play of Ahn, 24, and veteran goalkeeper Lee Woon-jae so far this offseason.

“I don’t feel a whole lot of pressure defending opposing players with a reliable veteran like Lee Woon-jae protecting our net,” said Ahn. “He has been a stabilizing force for the defensive.”

Ahn was traded from Incheon United during the offseason and was not receptive to the move at first.

“I made my professional debut with Incheon,” said Ahn. “It was difficult to leave the team but now I will be facing my old teammates as enemies. I’m motivated to not allow any goals especially against Incheon.

“I don’t have any negative feelings toward Incheon. I just think it’s the best way to give back to the fans of Chunnam and those who rooted for me in Incheon.”

Ahn played for former national team manager Huh Jung-moo last season with Incheon and will now be playing for Jung.

But despite the switch, Ahn sees more similarities than differences in the style of the two accomplished managers.

“Both men are charismatic leaders who command the respect of their players,” Ahn said. “But they both have caring and understanding sides to them. They are both managers players can trust and depend on.”

Ahn was once considered among the top defensive prospects in all of Korea and played on the U-17 national football team.

However, Ahn has come to earn the reputation of a rough and physical defender in the K-League. Ahn committed a total of 51 fouls in 24 matches last season.

That works out to 2.13 fouls per game, putting him 14th in the league in most fouls committed with Dzenan Radoncic of the Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma leading the league with 3.07 fouls per game.

By Lee Jung-chan [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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