Ahead of the 2023 season, manager Kim Ki-dong (51) is full of smiles as he looks at Brazilian striker Zeca (26) wearing a Pohang Steelers uniform for the K League 1 (Part 1). It is because of the relief that the right person has appeared to solve Pohang’s long-standing concerns.
Pohang suffered from a lack of scoring ability in the front line after Ilyuchenko (FC Seoul) left for Jeonbuk Hyundai after the 2020 season. Foreign players such as Tash and Moses Ogbu failed, and Heo Yong-jun, who showed potential, moved on loan to Vegalta Sendai (Japan). With his unique organization, he ranked 3rd in the K-League 1 in the 2022 season, and even won the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) berth in the 2023-2024 season.
Pohang dropped Jeka, who played in Daegu last year. He is a proven striker on the Korean stage, scoring 16 goals and 8 assists in 38 games, including league and cup competitions. Jeka is also full of confidence. In an interview with Sports Donga, he said, “The reason I came to Pohang is to solve the worries of 안전놀이터. I will give my 100%, and I will always run without thinking about stopping. Even when I can’t score goals, I want to help the team somehow.”
Director Kim, who leads Pohang, saw my car and fell in love with him at first sight. At the beginning of last month, he convened the players at the Songra Clubhouse and gave a thumbs up after directing Jeka’s training for the first time. Although he is 192 cm tall, he has good foot technique and speed, and is highly active, so it is evaluated that he is perfect for Pohang football. “My strength is my dedication. I want to learn a lot under the coach. I will do everything I can,” he said.
Adaptation is no problem. He is familiar with life in Korea while playing in Daegu, and quickly melted into Pohang with the help of Brazilian veteran Wandelsson. His wife, who is about to give birth, is staying in Brazil, but she plans to return to Korea around May and live in Pohang with Zecca. “I had a satisfying time last year in Daegu thanks to the help of many people. I want to adapt well to Pohang and continue to perform well.”
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Pohang’s goal is to win the K-League 1. Jeka is determined to dedicate herself to her goal. “I am not greedy for attack points. Whether it’s the ACL or the league, what the team wants comes first. I will play in every game and try to win every game.”