Pohang Steelers midfielder Shin Jin-ho is readying himself for a second ACL Final in as many years. Shin actually captained Pohang's biggest rivals, Ulsan Hyundai, to AFC Champions League glory in 2020 and so will be looking to become the first player to win the competition with two different clubs in as many seasons. The 33-year-old sat down with KLeague.com for an exclusive Q&A.
Q: What are your thoughts on reaching the ACL Final for the second year in a row and with different clubs?
A: "Personally and as a team as well, it’s a tremendous honour to get to a final. And now for us, despite being in a difficult situation, the coaching staff and the players have worked hard and done their best so that we have reached the final. It feels different to last year with Ulsan, it feels new."
Q: Is the possibility of this being a fourth title for Pohang something that is on the players' minds?
A: "First and foremost, instead of there being a focus on it being a fourth ACL title, I think both teams are just preparing to the fullest to win. It’s an away game in Saudi Arabia and so I think it’s going to be extremely difficult. Because of those kinds of expectations, we are getting ready to give it our all and without there being any regrets. That’s what the players are focusing on at the moment."
Q: How will your experience of winning it last year help the team this year?
A: "Well, I think there is a big difference if you don’t have that experience of winning a championship. Personally, after winning it last year, I gained a lot of confidence. I think psychologically I have a lot of confidence and experience that I can give. First of all, in Saudi Arabia there will be a lot of fans, it’s an away game that we have to play while the opposition will have their fans there, that’s the reality and so I'm trying to pass on my experience to the players to help them mentally."
Q: The team has shown how strong it can be in one-off matches this season. Does the game being just one leg give Pohang an advantage?
A: "It’s an away game, they will have a lot of their fans there so I think, in reality, when it comes down to us how we prepare tactically. It doesn't seem to be an advantageous situation to play in front of a large crowd in a game away from home. It's not an advantageous situation when compared to the other team but we are aware of that and are preparing well with that sort of challenge in mind."
Q: What do you think Pohang’s biggest strength is?
A: "Our players have shown a strong bond whether that be in a match or on the training ground, we’re one team and we all get along well. Because of that, I think our team is well equipped to go to the final. I think this is our biggest strength and is what has led to us reaching the final."