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Santos, The Core of Pohang’s Spider-Web Defense

Posted May. 24, 2004 22:20,   


The Pohang Steelers are leading the K-League unstoppably.

Experts considered the Steelers as a middle-rank team before the season started. But they are running in first place with 6 wins and 1 loss (18 winning points) as of May 24. It’s a 5-point difference compared with the second-place team, FC Seoul. (3 wins, 4 draws and 13 winning points) What are the reasons? First of all, the rushing and flexible attacks from the axis of Brazilians Carlos and Tavares are one thing. But experts point out that the solid defense line of the Steelers is the underlying reason for the Steelers’ big start. The experts don’t hesitate to select Brazilian Santos (33 years old), who leads Steelers’ defense, as the best player.

A rare foreign defender, Santos is the best player signed by Steelers. A spokesperson for the Pro Soccer Association mentioned, “Since Steelers had him in at the middle of last year, they were reborn as a strong defensive team.”

In fact, after Santos joined Pohang in June of last year, the team only allowed 26 goals for 32 games to be superior to Suwon (35 points allowed) and Ulsan (30 points allowed) during same period. In the last season before Santos came to Pohang, they were classified as weak defensively, with 20 goals allowed over 12 games.

The coach of Pohang, Park Hang-seo said, “We eagerly needed to have an experienced player who could lead the game based on defense, and Santos was the fittest one for our requirements. He was playing for FC Basqo Du Gama, the prestigious team of Brazil’s 1st-class league.”

With a grand-looking physique of 184cm and 78kg, Santos estimated that he is good at all capacities such as dominating ball in the air, one-on-one match ups and quick changes to offense and defense, which is required for a defender. He scored a winning goal with his right foot in a set-play against Taegu on May 15. In addition, Santos is well aware of habits and attacking routes of opposing Brazilian strikers.

Santos is 33 years old and is not quite young. But he controls himself to endure the same amount of training that much young players receive, so coaching staffs give him a great vote of confidence.

Coach Park praised him a lot, saying, “Santos is an excellent fighter on the field, but he is a broad-minded and sincere guy off the field,” adding, “I used to say to other foreign players: model yourselves after Santos.’”

Sung-Kyu Kim kimsk@donga.com