“I thought something like this would happen someday, but now it’s a reality…”

On the afternoon of the 26th, at the Gwangju Soccer Stadium, the ‘right-hand man’ who had shared joys and sorrows for six years appeared in front of him as the manager of the opposing team. Jeju coach Nam Ki-il (49) shaking hands with Gwangju coach Lee Jeong-hyo (48) couldn’t help but feel different.

Director Nam and coach Lee made their first relationship as head coach and head coach respectively in Gwangju in 2016, and continued their relationship to Seongnam (2018-2019) and Jeju (2020-2021). We shared the joys and sorrows of victory and defeat, promotion and remaining fight. I liked the ‘chemistry’, so I felt like I would remain as the head coach and head coach forever.

After the 2021 season, coach Lee accepted an offer from Gwangju, who was in the second division at the time, and took a different path after six years. Coach Lee caused a sensation in the K League 2 in his first season as a command tower and put the team in the first division, and on this day, through the 9th round of the ‘Hanawon Q K League 1 2023’, he had a resourceful confrontation with Nam.

Before the game, coach Nam said, “Coach Lee is doing well in Gwangju. He has developed Gwangju not one level, but two or three levels. I think he is the perfect manager for Gwangju. After coming up to K-League 1, we met as enemy captains. I wish you well,” he said to his juniors.

Coach Lee tried hard not to drive this game to ‘Nam Ki-il vs. Lee Jung-hyo’. He evaded coach Nam Han, who had been his assistant for six years, and said, “I will not answer” questions about football. At the same time, he said, “I didn’t think about the relationship with coach Nam Ki-il, but I thought it was 1 game out of 38.

Manager Nam was sentimental even for a moment, but manager Lee seemed to want to focus only on winning. Director Lee said, “I saved Um Ji-sung for protection on this day.” Coach Lee came out with the same lineup as the 4th round game against Incheon, including Umji-seong, who won 5-0. Nam replaced left wingback Lee Joo-yong with Ahn Tae-hyeon, who left the match against Jeonbuk in the 8th round.

Coach Nam is a veteran who has won 342 K-League games in his 11th year as a pro. On the other hand, coach Lee is in his second year with 48 games (including two divisions). There is a big difference in experience, but Gwangju was ahead in terms of performance this season. Gwangju finished in 5th place and Jeju in 10th place for the first time in the season. The game has followed the flow of this season. Gwangju-style offensive soccer shook the Jeju defense. Um Ji-seong, who returned after 5 games, was especially light. In the extra time of the first half, he aimed for the opening goal with a sharp mid-range shot, but it was blocked by Jeju goalkeeper Kim Dong-jun. The first half possession was 66% to 34%.안전놀이터

The second half was no different. Following the match against Jeonbuk in the last round, Jeju seemed to be at a loss on this day as well. It was consistent with purposeless passes. It was also difficult to approach the Gwangju penalty box. Goalkeeper Kim Dong-jun’s save and the defense’s on-the-ball defense were in a hurry to hold on without conceding a goal. However, in the middle of the second half, the atmosphere in the stadium changed. It was noticeable that Gwangju, which showed poor stamina in the second half of this season, decreased its energy level as time passed. Naturally, an opportunity came to Jeju. In the 32nd minute of the second half, Jeju’s Hayes, who had been on the offensive for a long time, sent a cross from the left toward the goal. Seo Jin-soo connected this with a header in front of the gate. The sharp-flying ball hit the Gwangju goalkeeper, but Seo Jin-soo calmly pushed it away.

Jeju, who kept this goal to the end, kept a 1-0 victory thanks to Kim Dong-jun’s two super saves in the second half of extra time. They recorded 3 wins, 2 draws, 4 losses and 11 points, laying the foundation for a leap to the top ranks. Also, following Ulsan, Seoul, Pohang and Busan, it became the 5th team to reach 500 wins in the K-League. On the other hand, Gwangju recorded two consecutive scoreless draws (1 draw and 1 loss) following the last game against Gangwon.

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