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Member of the club's first runner-up finish in 2015
"This time, we want to go beyond the final and win the title"
Kim Do-hyuk, a key midfielder for professional soccer's K League 1 Incheon United, hopes for the beauty of the 2023 season, especially in the '2023 Hana One Q FA Cup,' where the club is currently in the top four.
Incheon will play the 35th round of the 'Hana OneQ K League 1 2023' at 4:30 p.m. on the 28th against Gwangju FC. Currently sixth in the league (49 points), Incheon will look to make a miraculous leap up the table by beating Gwangju, who are third in the league (57 points).
Incheon has been on a killer schedule lately. After the A-Match break in October, the second half of the schedule has been very tight.
It began its 34th league round against Pohang Steelers (1-1 draw) on Oct. 20, followed by the third leg of its 2023-2024 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) Group G match against Shandong Taishan (China) on Oct. 25 (0-2 loss).
After Gwangju, the team will travel to K League 1 Jeonbuk Hyundai next month for the FA Cup quarterfinals, followed by a trip to Shandong on Nov. 7 for the fourth leg of the ACL group stage.
If they beat Jeonbuk, they will play the winner of the Jeju United-Pohang match on April 4 in the FA Cup final. That's three games every three days for two weeks. There's also the added pressure of playing most of their games away from home.
To make matters worse, they couldn't even button up early on. Incheon drew against Pohang and lost against Shandong.
Kim Do-hyuk, one of Incheon's key players, emphasized that the atmosphere within the squad is motivated, despite the results. He said, "Football is not something we can control. The season is not over yet. We are preparing well for the remaining games by sticking together," he said.
"We recently lost Delbridge, (Shin) Jin Ho-hyung, and (Lee) Myung-joo-hyung to injuries," he said, noting that the team is not at full strength, "but we still have to play. I want to show the fans a stronger version of myself."
Kim explained that there are many things they want to accomplish in the remaining schedule, including a top spot in the league and their first ACL tournament, but they want to win the FA Cup the most.
Incheon reached the FA Cup final for the first time in the club's history in the 2015 edition. However, they finished as runners-up, losing to FC Seoul in the final. Of the players who started that tournament, Kim Do-hyuk is the only one still with the club.
"Personally, I think the league match against Gwangju is more important than the FA Cup quarterfinals against Jeonbuk. I believe that if we beat Gwangju and turn the tide (of the draw), we can gain momentum and do well against Jeonbuk. So I really want to beat Gwangju," he said.
"I also have vivid memories of reaching the FA Cup final eight years ago. This time, I want to not only reach the final but also win the title," he said. "It won't be easy because the schedule is so tight, but we will do well like Incheon, which is good at overcoming crises."
Friday, October 27, 2023