Sangju Sangmu turns four goals into four winsSangju Sangmu will take victories in any shape or form, but after winning four straight K League 1 matches by the identical scores of 1-0, the team would like to score a few more goals just about now.
The opportunity to do just that will come Saturday against the league's worst team, Incheon United. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Incheon Football Stadium in Incheon.
Sangju, a club made up of conscripted players serving their military duty, has been the biggest overachiever so far this season. With four consecutive victories, it sits in third place with 20 points, behind only the two giants of the league, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (24) and Ulsan Hyundai FC (23).
The military club has a goal difference of plus-1, with 11 goals scored and 10 conceded, suggesting that Sangju has been rather lucky to be so high up in the table, though their players would point to their recent string of victories and say they have been a resilient bunch.
In its last four 1-0 victories, Sangju scored all of the winning goals in the second half, three of them coming in the last 15 minutes of the match.
Those narrow wins have kept head coach Kim Tae-wan on the edge of his seat, and he said Thursday he'd like to breathe a bit easier this time around.
"It'd be nice if we can win by multiple goals," Kim said. "Since we played last Sunday and we'll be back playing Saturday, the focus of our preparation has been on recovery."
As for Sangju's streak of scoring late goals, Kim said, "I think our players have competed with a better focus than have opponents. This is a very tight team, and I think our sum is greater than our parts."
Incheon is still looking for its first win of the season. The struggling bottom-ranked club dropped eight matches in a row after drawing their first two to open the season. Kim said his players will have to guard against overconfidence.
"It doesn't matter if our opponents have lost eight straight or won eight straight. Our own mindset and approach are more important," the coach said. "Incheon looked to be more aggressive in their last match than at earlier ones, and we have to be prepared for that."
Kang Sang-woo, who has scored in each of his past two matches, will be the key player on Saturday, Kim added.
"He's such a hard-working player, and he's always having fun," Kim said. "He always gives his best no matter what the role is, and he's playing with a lot of confidence."
The coach would also like to see his 21-year-old forward Oh Se-hun elevate his game. He missed the early portion of the season after a team van carrying him and other teammates got into a minor accident. Oh netted two goals in his season debut on June 13 but has been held off the scoresheet since.
"He needs to regain his confidence," Kim said. "I hope he can grow into a player who will strike fear into opposing defense and score some goals."