Suwon winger makes a run for the record
After helping his club win a berth in the AFC Champions League quarterfinals at the Suwon World Cup Stadium on Wednesday, Suwon Samsung Bluewings FC player Yeom Ki-hun is just two goals away from breaking the AFC goal scoring record for Korean players.
Yeom played a pivotal role in the Bluewings’ 2-0 win against Japanese club Nagoya Grampus by scoring the opening goal and marking an assist during the team’s campaign to make it to the round of 16.
The 28-year-old lashed the opening goal against Nagoya in the 23rd minute with a header, thanks to a cross from the left flank by teammate Lee Yong-rae. But the Bluewings’ winger wasn’t finished. In the 56th minute, Yeom intercepted a back pass from a Grampus defender and passed the ball to Lee Sang-ho for an easy goal.
Yeom’s performance is especially good news for the Bluewings, which haven’t notched a single win in their last five K-League games. Football experts say Bluewings head coach Yoon Sung-hyo’s emphasis on defense could be a reason for the team’s offensive struggle but so is the poor performance of its strikers.
In the game against Grampus, the Bluewings had to play without its first choice strikers. Both Alexander Geynrikh and Marcel Augusto Ortolan weren’t able to play because the team failed to register them in time for the tournament and Brazilian striker Bergson was cut from the squad based on his lackluster performance in recent games. And Ha Tae-goon, the current leader in the AFC Champions League with six goals, also missed the game because of a calf injury.
That left Yeom and wingers Choi Sung-kuk and Lee Sang-ho out on their own. Thanks to Yeom’s performance, Suwon not only reached the Asian tournament quarterfinals but it also kept its undefeated streak against Japanese clubs at home going.
Yeom said the goal against Grampus gave him the confidence to believe he can become the top Korean scorer in AFC Champions League history.
The left sided player currently has 11 goals, just one behind retired player and current record holder Kim Do-hoon, who is now an assistant coach for Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma FC.
“In the game, I wasn’t actually thinking about scoring,” Yeom told Ilgan Sports, JoongAng Ilbo’s daily sports paper. “But since I’m close to the breaking the record, I want to try.”
Yeom scored three goals in 2006 while playing for Jeonbuk Hyundai FC, which won the AFC trophy that year. He moved to the Bluewings last year, scoring four more goals in the same event.
Yeom is expected to break the Korean record during the quarterfinals on Sept. 14 and 28.
Currently, no active Korean footballer is ahead of Yeom. Ahn Jung-hwan, who plays for Chinese club Dalian Shide, has 10 goals, while Kim Jae-sung of Pohang Steelers has eight.
Yeom may even beat his expat counterparts. Denilson, who once played for the Daejeon Citizen and Pohang Steelers, has scored 14 goals in the tournament. The striker, now in Brazil, scored seven goals and led Pohang to the AFC title in 2009. He later added five when playing for FC Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan in 2010.
The top scorer in AFC Champions League history is Leandro of Qatar club Al-Sadd with 17 goals.
Aside from the Bluewings, there are two other Korean clubs in the AFC quarterfinals. FC Seoul beat Japanese club Kashima Antlers 3-0 on Wednesday to earn one of the eight spots, while Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC got their pass to the next stage on Tuesday by winning 3-0 against Tianjin Teda of China.
By Joo Kyung-don [email@example.com]
한글 관련 기사 [일간스포츠]
염기훈, “최다골 기록 욕심 난다”
"이제 (한국인 최다골 기록까지) 1골 남았다. 기록에 도전하고픈 욕심이 난다."
'챔피언스리그의 사나이' 염기훈(28)이 아시아축구연맹(AFC) 챔피언스리그 한국인 최다골 기록에 도전장을 냈다. 염기훈은 25일 수원월드컵경기장에서 열린 나고야 그램퍼스(일본)와의 대회 16강전 직후 열린 기자회견에서 "골 욕심보다는 열심히 한다는 생각으로 뛰었다"면서도 "이제 한국인 통산 최다골 기록에 근접한 만큼 기록에 도전하고 싶다"고 말했다.
이날 염기훈은 나고야를 상대로 1골1도움을 기록하며 수원의 2-0 완승을 이끌었다. 전반23분 이용래의 크로스를 헤딩 슈팅으로 연결해 선제 결승골의 주인공이 됐다. 후반11분에는 상대의 백패스를 가로챈 뒤 이상호에게 연결해 추가골을 도왔다. 염기훈의 맹활약을 앞세운 수원은 8강행에 성공하며 아시아 정상에 한발짝 다가섰다. 최근 정규리그 5경기 무승(1무4패)의 부진의 어두운 그림자를 털어버렸다는 점에서도 돋보인 활약이었다.
선수 자신에게도 득점의 의미는 남달랐다. 아시아 챔피언스리그 무대에서 개인 통산 11번째 골을 터뜨려 챔스 한국인 최다골 기록 보유자인 김도훈 성남 일화 코치(12골)에 한 골 차로 접근했다. 김 코치가 '염기훈의 최다골 기록 경신을 응원하겠다'는 의사를 전한 것과 관련해서는 "칭찬에 감사한다. 더욱 분발하는 계기로 삼겠다"는 각오를 밝혔다.
염기훈은 "득점보다는 경기를 꼭 이겨야 한다는 생각이 강했다"면서 "이번 경기를 앞두고 선수들이 자발적으로 합숙훈련을 했다. 그동안 자신감이 많이 떨어져 있었는데, 오늘 승리를 통해 분위기를 반전할 수 있게 돼 기쁘다"는 소감을 밝혔다.
이어 "주말에 열리는 인천과의 경기에서도 승리하고 싶다. 정규리그에서는 우리가 이것저것 가릴 처지가 아니다. 오늘처럼 정신무장을 잘 하면 좋은 결과를 낼 수 있다"고 덧붙였다.
More in Baseball
Park Kun-woo goes from slump to potential player of the month
KBO announces guidelines for reopening stadiums
NC Dinos merchandise proves popular overseas
KBO prepares for the long-awaited return of the crowds
Kang abandons comeback plan one week after announcing it