“I have no intention of coaching the Chinese national team… Incheon game will be a watershed”.
Shandong held an official press conference ahead of their 2023-2024 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League Group G match at the Incheon Football Stadium on Thursday.
The press conference was attended by head coach Choi Kang-hee and Wang Dallei.
Shandong currently has one point in Group G after defeating Caya Iloilo (Philippines) but losing to Yokohama Mariners (Japan).
Ahead of the match, head coach Choi Kang-hee said, “It’s the third game of the group stage. Tomorrow’s game is really important. The result against Incheon could determine whether we advance to the round of 16 or not.” “We have injuries from the last game, so we won’t be able to field a full squad. It’s a shame, but we’ll do our best to get a good result.”
“We’re playing in Korea for the first time in a long time, so it’s a new feeling, but more importantly, we’re playing against Incheon. I think Incheon is a really tricky team, so we’re going to have to fight hard tomorrow.”
The match is a crucial one that will decide the top of the Group G standings. It will also be the first time Choi Kang-hee has coached a team back in Korea.
Choi led Jeonbuk from 2005 to 2018, winning nine league titles, three FA Cups, and two ACL titles, transforming the club into a powerhouse. During this time, Jeonbuk transformed into a popular club with strong performances and box office success by playing a fiery style of attacking soccer called “Dakgong” (shut up and attack).
Since then, Choi has led Tianjin Quanjian, Dalian Yifang, Shanghai Shenhua, and others to the Chinese stage in 2019, before taking the helm of Shandong this season. Choi quickly turned around the team’s disorganized atmosphere and rebuilt the squad, taking Shandong to the top of the table.
Shandong are in second place in the Chinese Super League this season. They’ve scored 53 goals in 28 games, good enough for second most goals in the league, and they play a consistent attacking style of soccer. The problem, however, is injuries.
They’ve been hit with a string of injuries. Starting with Marouane Fellaini, the captain and Matheus Pato are out with injuries.
“We don’t emphasize attacking football. The important thing is defense. We have the fewest goals conceded in the Europa League. By emphasizing defense, our balance has improved. We have a lot of talented foreign players, so we were able to score a lot of goals. However, Incheon has a stable defense and counter-attacks, so we need to focus on the defensive part.”스포츠토토
On the recent rumors of his appointment to the Chinese national team, Choi Kang-hee said, “The stories coming out of China are fake news. I’m not thinking about being the national team coach at all,” he said, adding, “I thought Incheon would have a hard time against Yokohama, but they won big. “I thought Incheon would have a hard time against Yokohama, but they won big. They have conceded very few goals recently and are strong defensively, so if we play attacking football like we do in the Super League, we might struggle. But we also need to get results, so we have to play with all our might against Incheon.”
On Fellaini’s injury: “The player has shown his willingness to play with a protective brace. However, we still have a league game to play and it’s a concern. We will talk more with the player and decide whether he will play or not.” “The captain is more important and he got injured suddenly. The injury of both players is definitely a challenge for us.”
Meanwhile, Wang Daley, who attended as a player representative, said, “I’m really happy to play against Incheon. We will do our best to get a good result.”
“When he was at Jeonbuk, we played head-to-head and lost every time. I thought he was a very strict coach, but now it’s completely different. I’m happy and having a good time,” he said, adding, “I want to win unconditionally tomorrow. We’ll be playing the Korean national team next month. I’m also a member of the national team, and I’m determined to do well at home.”