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Interview: Daejeon Hana Citizen's Anton Kryvotsyuk

notice 2023.07.12   I   hits 840

Daejeon Hana Citizen defender Anton Kryvotsyuk has cemented himself as a key player for the Purples this season, his first in K League. His impressive performances have also led to fans voting for him to play for Team K League against Atletico Madrid later this month. KLeague.com caught up with Anton to talk about this move to Daejeon and the season so far.

Q: It's been a very good season so far for you and the club. We're just past the halfway point, how would you assess it so far? 

A: "I think it's my best season in my career for sure because everyone knows my performance here in K League. So it's not about goals or assists, it's about my performance during the game and also my opponents telling me that I'm a good player. So that's the reason why we can say that is a good season. And it's not finished yet. I hope I will continue like this."

Q: You must be very pleased with how the season's gone from the team's point of view as well?

A: "Yeah I think we start very good because we get some points. Also, we beat good teams who is in top three. Our goal for this season, I think is just to stay in K League 1 because, for a long time, Daejeon wasn't in K League 1 and now was important to show our performance against good and big clubs.

"I think we lost many points because of our concentration against teams from the top five. But I think we have enough skills to show our best in the future, in other matches. I hope the top six is not enough for us because we are still hungry. We're still hungry and for me as a player, I always like to be the best and I share, this with my teammates. I hope we'll be in the top five, or top three in future."

Q: You've had some time to assess what the league is like. What have you thought about the standard of the K League compared to the European leagues that you played in? 

A: "So, in Azerbaijan, I played in the biggest club with the biggest history in Azerbaijan, you know from the Soviet Union they were in top positions. If I compared with K League, the big difference is between fans, between spectators because in the K League, people actually like football. They love football. Many people come to the match with kids, all the people; young people, kids, parents. Everyone is interested, you know, in Azerbaijan now it's a difficult time for football. Maybe they need to change something to bring people to the stadiums.

"So, about Poland. Everyone knows Poland league is very strong. It's very good. Many people also come to the stadiums, also the level of the teams is good, many teams are very strong. So many teams can be in the top five. But before I came to the K League I didn't expect some special feeling because I didn't hear anything about K League, some good things. But when I came here, I was impressed. I was happy that I refreshed my career. I refreshed my mind because in Poland I didn't have a lot of time on the pitch, I had some troubles. It's not about the coaching staff, it's just about myself so it was a difficult time but here, I refreshed. I came to a good team, a good collective, good teammates also very, very good fans. And I feel like I'm home. I was impressed because of the level and also because many, many teams show good football, really good football. I was impressed."

Q: Did you adapt a lot faster than you expected? 

A: "I expected that maybe I need more time because it's so far from my home. But when I came here only, I think because of my teammates, because of our collective, because of coaching stuff, they helped me. They were so polite to me and so friendly. That's what helped me to adapt fast. I think just these things and of course, my desire. My desire to play because after a difficult time in Poland, I came here to play all games, all matches. So, many, many things [were a factor]."

Q: Where did the move come from? You're a European player who was playing in Europe so why K League?

A: "This club was straight and clear, you know because they sent an offer. There were some offers also from other clubs, but it wasn't like an offer on paper, you know, just some discussions, some talking, but not something straight but from Daejeon it happened in one week, On the Monday, they just connected with me first and by Friday I had already signed the contract. So I really liked the mentality and appreciate it. Thanks to them again for the chance to be here."

Q: And the fans have really opened their arms to you. Has how passionate the fans are surprised you too?

A: "Yeah, it surprised me because, from the first day, everyone was so friendly to me. You know, everyone writes about me, good things on social media, and everyone tries to ask me to take photos, to take photos with some kids and their parents. And I didn't expect that but I really like it and also thanks to our fans for supporting us, supporting me. I hope we will show on the pitch our love to them as well."

Q: And they're really loud as well. Against FC Seoul (last away game), there were 2,000 away fans and they sang the whole game. They must have helped you in games?

A: "Exactly. I always say fans are the 12th player of the team, you know because sometimes during the match, during the game, you can be tired. You don't have enough power to run. But your 12th player the fans, they go with you, they follow you, so you hear them and you go again, again and again. So, yeah, it's really helped. 

Q: You said that the whole transfer happened very quickly. What did the manager or the president tell you about the club's vision and its targets?

A: "They said that they tried to find a player like me in my position. They explained to me what style they follow, the style of football, how they want to play and how they want to use me on the pitch. And I understood, I said, 'Yeah, I can do this I can help the team.' I saw some results of the team. I also watched some last matches and I said, 'Yeah, I can help and I can bring something from me to this team,' you know, some pictures of the game, how I see our structure, our tactics."

Q: It took a long time for Daejeon to get out of K League 2 but from what you've seen so far from within the club, how far can this club go? Can the fans dream of Asian Champions League and winning trophies? 

A: "Yeah, exactly. Every day I see these players, I see my teammates, I see how they train, how they train hard. So I see their mentality. I also try to bring something from me. And I think if everyone from our club, not only players, also coaching staff, everyone must be like one engine. If everyone gives their best, not a hundred percent, 150 percent, we can be in the top three, It's not easy, but we can be in the top three and later and then we can fight for Asian Champions League. It's possible just everyone must believe nothing is impossible. Everyone must believe, and plus they must give everything on the pitch and also out of the pitch."

Q: "What's the communication like with your teammates? Have you learned some Korean words and how do you guys talk to each other on the pitch and obviously between the defenders and with the goalkeeper?

A: "So many players from our club, they speak English as well. Also, many players don't know English, but they try like I've tried to speak Korean. It's not a big problem because we have football language, we can understand each other. So just we need to try to communicate. Even if someone doesn't know some words, we try to communicate, we try to show something with our hands. You know, so I think it was a little bit difficult to communicate from the first match and the first five matches were difficult, but now I think we have good communication between the defensive line, also the goalkeeper and the team. I think, of course, I need to learn a little bit of Korean to communicate better."

Q: So, do you see yourself being in the K league and with this club for a few years more?

A: Of course, of course [but] it depends on results. But I think nobody knows what will be tomorrow, just God knows. But yeah, I really feel very, very good in this club, like I am in home. I don't have some things in my mind what disappointed me or makes me angry, everything is okay. Thanks, God. Thanks to our teammates, our club, our coaching staff. I feel very good and I hope I will be in Daejeon for many, many years, many, many seasons."


Q: "I've seen obviously on the YouTube videos that the club uploads that you are quite vocal in the dressing room and you're not afraid to say things to the rest of the team. You're only 24 years old, so you're still young but you have those leadership qualities. Have you always been like that? 

A: "I don't think so, because before, when I played in Azerbaijan I just started my professional career, I was young and this time I don't have much experience. Later, I started to play for the national team and I get many, many experience. I play against the biggest players in the world, Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo also and I think even though I'm 24 years old, I can share my experience with my teammates. Not only I can, I think I must share this experience because it can help everyone. So if I see something, what we can not do or we can do better, I must say this."

Q: Well, you just talked about some really big names that you played against. Who was the hardest attacker that you played against for the national team?

A: "It's Gareth Bale. Everyone knows him, everyone knows his best sides. So it was really difficult. He's very strong, very fast. He's a very smart player. You know this was his prime, we had a match against the Wales national team. At this time he was in Real Madrid and also I was really young. I think I was 20 or 21 and it was a great experience for me that I can share with my teammates, how to defend against players like Gareth Bale."

Q: And who's the toughest forward you've played against in K League?

A: "I remember two matches against Suwon FC, away and home against Lars (Veldwijk) it was really difficult because of his parameters. You know, he's tall, he's strong, he's fast; it was difficult to play against him. Yeah, he's a really good player. This is the level of players [in K League]. He can somewhere and then in one second he can change the game.

Q: Well you might be playing with him in a few weeks because you and Lars and a few other players Daejeon have been shortlisted for Team K League against Atletico Madrid. This means that fans have voted for you, which shows how popular you are. How does that feel? 

A: "It is a great feeling that I was nominated. I think it's the result of my hard work, my desire, and as always, I am very hungry, hungry to win. I hope people will vote for me and I will have a chance to play against a big team, against big players, very famous players. It's also a great experience."