Ulsan Hyundai – Match Report vs Pohang Steelers (27/03/2022)

Two of the Kleague’s in-form teams, Ulsan Hyundai and east coast rival Pohang Steelers, met in an entertaining rearranged fixture over the international break. The home side, Ulsan, were the victors in a tightly-contested fixture, which was settled in the final 20 minutes of the match. With some players away with their national teams it was somewhat of a makeshift Ulsan lineup who recently suffered from a corona outbreak, which led to the original fixture being arranged. That meant that Ulsan went with a 3-4-3 with only one recognised centre back, the team played two fullbacks either side of Lim Jong-eun. Pohang, who were less affected by the international break, named close to their best eleven and lined up in their regular 4-2-3-1. Both sides were comfortable on the ball in possession and also possessed a threat on the counter, which made it a very even contest. After a scoreless first half, Ulsan took the lead somewhat against the run of play with some incisive attacking play. They were then able to add to their lead from a set piece in the last five minutes and the game was over. The win moves Ulsan clear at the top of the table just six games into the season with five wins and one draw. Pohang, having played all away games so far, are in fourth with a decent ten points from a tough run of games.

Ratings                  

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, re-watch
  • D – Below average in this match

Eom Won-sang

  • Nationality: South Korean
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 06/01/1999
  • Current Club: Ulsan Hyundai
  • Career: Gwangju FC
  • Position: Right Winger
  • Preferred foot: Right

Eom only recently joined the team and is still getting up to speed with his new team after missing preseason. In this game, he replace Choi Gi-yun, the under 22 player, halfway through the first half and his impact was instant. Playing on the right side of a front three in the team’s 3-4-3; Eom’s first involvement was deep inside his own half after the opposition had had a set piece, facing his own goal Eom played a quick one-two to get facing the defenders. On the right side of the pitch at the halfway line the quick winger knocked the ball beyond two Pohang defenders and sped towards the corner flag; easily getting there first he put in a dangerous ball that was well collected by the opposition goalkeeper. This set the tone and turned a fairly even first half into one that the home side would feel unfortunate not to be ahead in at half time. In the second half of the first half, Eom would have three efforts on goal with one cleared off the line and was a constant threat. The second half was much quieter for the 4-times capped winger; it was a combination of Pohang having more of the play in the second half and perhaps some signs that the new look Ulsan side were still getting to know each other, and Eom certainly seemed to suffer from that as the game wore on.

It’s quite clear that Eom’s pace is frightening for defenders and his ability to stretch defences is a real asset to his team. His close control, first touch and anticipation in the final third were all on display in this game, while his finishing still requires some fine-tuning with two efforts rather poorly placed too close to the goalkeeper in promising positions. The second half gave Eom the chance to show his work rate on the defensive side of the ball sometimes falling back into the right back position to help out his team, something he did diligently without really excelling. On this performance we never saw much of his passing or crossing with some work to do creating link-ups with some of his new teammates.

Rating – B1

The glimpses I saw in the first half were very impressive and he was unlucky not to get on the score sheet. I believe with more time with this team he will really develop and could soon be a potential star in this league.

Seol Young-woo

  • Nationality: South Korean
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 05/12/1999
  • Current Club: Ulsan Hyundai
  • Career: Ulsan University
  • Position: Left fullback
  • Preferred foot: Right

Seol Young-woo played in the unfamiliar position of right-sided centre back of the 3-4-3 in this game, but that isn’t unexpected for a player who is very much a modern day utility player now in his third year playing for his home town club. Having previously played left winger and right back before usurping the team’s then left back, and international, Hong Chul of his left back position.

The right footed Seol played quite conservatively in this game often choosing quite conservative passes across the backline or into the right sided midfielder, fairly accurately, but only very rarely joined in in the attacking final third. Adapting to his new position he displayed good understanding in the build-up phase often being the one of the back three in the most space and advancing into a more accustomed right back position to progress the ball, while being able to take any pressure applied by the opposing forward and maintain possession. On the defensive side of the ball his pace and strength are two of his assets; rarely beaten in one-on-ones and extremely quick in recovery. Positioning and decision making were, perhaps understandably, suspect at times. On Pohang’s best chance of the game, a burst forward on the counter by Go Young-jun eventually well saved by the keeper, Seol never engaged with the danger and left his keeper exposed to a one-on-one.

Rating – B2

This wasn’t the best game to judge Seol’s ability and while he put in a solid display displaying good on the ball qualities, he never really got forward or was involved in the key moments of the game

Choi Gi-yun

  • Nationality: South Korean
  • Age: 19
  • Date of birth: 09/04/2002
  • Current Club: Ulsan Hyundai
  • Career: Yongin University
  • Position: Right Winger
  • Preferred foot: left

This was the second game of his professional career for Choi Gi-yun; starting the game as the team’s designated under 22 player, which allows the team to make more subs as part of the league rules aiming to foster the growth of young players. An unfortunate side of this rule is that the players are often hooked off in the first half and that was the case here with Choi coming off halfway through.

While on the pitch Choi played as the right sided winger of the team’s 3-4-3 though left footed he showed he was comfortable in this role, which he also played in the university league. His close control and quick skills on the ball were on display affording Choi on occasion the space for crosses in the half space although he was unable to find a target. After a bright start on the ball and recycling the ball under pressure in the final third, Choi found it more difficult when facing his own goal in the Ulsan half, losing possession a number of times after failing to dribble out of pressure. Not long into the game and with the away side on top the manager took the somewhat harsh but more logical decision to bring on a more experienced player.

Rating – D

In the second game of his career it is understandable to experience some difficulties adjusting from university football. There were some positives on the ball but definitely one that needs more time to grow and develop at this level.

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