Incheon’s Cho Sung-hwan worries before ACL victory

That’s how Incheon United head coach Cho Sung-hwan responded when asked whether he was more excited about the club’s first-ever Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) qualification or worried about his game plan after the extra-time tie.

Incheon defeated Hai Phong 3-1 in the 2023-2024 ACL Playoffs (PO) on Nov. 22 at the Incheon Football Stadium after 90 minutes of 1-1 stalemate.

The victory secured Incheon’s place in the Asian stage after 20 years in existence.

However, it’s not all sunshine and roses for Cho.

While many expected Incheon to come out on top, it was Hai Phong who opened the scoring.

Incheon struggled against Hai Phong’s higher-than-expected offense, but Chun Sung-hoon’s equalizer in the 17th minute of the first half, Hernandez’s game-winner in the 10th minute of the first overtime period, and Gerso’s wedge goal in the second half of extra time gave Incheon a dramatic victory.

Mugosa, Jerso, and Hernandez were all on the field for 120 minutes. Incheon now has to prepare for a K League 1 match against Suwon FC in three days.

Incheon currently sits in sixth place in the league, just outside the Final Four. They need to go all out in the league.

“After the win, I was more disappointed than happy because we played for 120 minutes,” Cho said at the post-match press conference. “It would have been nice to finish the game in 90 minutes with better game management.”

“Overall, we played with a lot of pressure, and it was difficult to operate because we conceded an early goal (in the first five minutes),” Cho said, adding, “Today’s experience will help the team a lot.”

After a sluggish first half, Incheon became more aggressive in the second half with the introduction of Hernandez and Jerso. The defense also made fewer mistakes.

“We tried to raise our defensive line a bit more than in the league, but that didn’t materialize well on the pitch,” Cho said, “We adjusted the detailed tactics of the defense and pointed out the areas where we almost conceded an additional goal at the end of the first half (defensive mistakes on set pieces).”

After the press conference, Cho stayed on to say a few more words.

“I would like to congratulate the players and the fans for reaching the Asian stage together,” he said, “I would like to say a big thank you to the players.”

Head coach Dinh Nghiem Haiphong was pleased with the team’s confident performance against a strong Incheon team, saying, “Incheon had a lot of good players. That was the difference in the outcome.” 토토사이트

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