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"We're not thinking about anything else other than automatic promotion": Kim Tae-wan

league 2021.09.30   I   hits 1543

Gimcheon Sangmu boss Kim Tae-wan admits that injuries affected his team's start to the 2021 Hana 1Q K League 2 season but, with less than a handful of games remaining, is confident that his players can see the campaign out and win automatic promotion. The former Daejeon Citizen defender sat down with KLeague.com for an exclusive interview.

Q: What’s it like to manage the army team and not being able to sign players? 

A: "For me as a manager, this has been a bit of an issue for a long time. But more than just not being able to sign players, not being able to bring in specific players for certain positions is more of a problem. For example, players aren't categorised by their position, just whether they are a defender and not full back or centre back for example, so sometimes players for positions we need aren't selected. It's the same for forward players too and having to use strikers as wingers. If it's not their natural position then the players need time to get used to it. I'm just grateful that the players understand and play well even if they're not in their natural positions."

Q: What’s it like to lose players mid-season when their military service is finished? 

A: "It's a bit of a vicious cycle. Players train and get used to how we play then they are discharged. Then repeat. After a few years, I picked up the knack of preparing the successors before players returned to their parent clubs. If the intake time is a little earlier then there is more time for them to integrate but it can be difficult because some players are needed to play from as soon as they join us." 

Q: What input do you have in the selection process for new recruits? 

A: "The selection process is not my department. I just prepare scorecards but never intervene in the recruitment process. It's done fairly because it is overseen by Korea's defense ministry. However, as I mentioned earlier, it's difficult to clearly distinguish player positions - centre backs, full backs, and it can be a bit difficult to evaluate individual players' capabilities."

Q: How much impact did the U22 rule have on your preparations and approach to managing Sangju and Gimcheon? 

A: "To be honest, there aren't too many U22 players for us to recruit. Of course, there are those without outstanding ability, but there are limitations due to the formation that we use. After bringing some in, I try to improve them by giving them playing time. We have players like Oh Hyeon-gyu and Seo Jin-su who are both doing well for the Gimcheon."

[READ: "We're taking it one game at a time": Gimcheon Sangmu's Park Dong-jin]

Q: Your team is top of the table, you must be very pleased with how the season has gone? 

A: "The season has almost finished and not many games are left now. At the beginning of the season, we were a bit unsettled but now I think we are settled. We are not thinking about anything else other than finishing in first place so that we can win automatic promotion."

Q: Many expected Gimcheon to take control of the league from very early in the season. It took a little bit of time to get there, what was behind the slightly slow start? 

A: "Many players got injured during winter training so before the season started we had to change our tactics. At first, we had worked on a 4-4-2 formation because we had many good strikers. But some players got injured and so we changed to 4-3-3. The season started and we conceded a few too many goals so to solve the problem, we decided to change the back four to a back three. We spent a lot of time finding the right formation but I think we found the best formation to suit each player’s characteristics."

Paul Neat
Managing Editor