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Farias Uses “Economic” Soccer to Win With Pohang

Posted November. 02, 2007 07:05,   


Heavy Dependence on Andre Luiz Tavares-

How far can coach Farias go with his economical soccer strategy? One of the most pronounced characters of Steelers, a dark horse in the 2007 Korean Professional Soccer League, is that its players do not score much.

Pohang, by finishing fifth in the regular season, advanced to the sixth round playoffs, semifinal playoffs, and playoffs, where it won against fourth-ranked Gyeongnam, third-ranked Ulsan Hyundai, and second-ranked Suwon Samsung, respectively to play in the champion’s league.

One thing interesting about Pohang is that its scoring totals are very poor. Among the teams that advanced to the sixth round playoffs, Pohang scored the fewest goals. While it scored 27 goals in 26 matches, Daejeon, ranked 6th, scored 34 goals. Nevertheless, Pohang defeated Gyeongnam, Hyundai and Suwon, whose respective goal totals were 41, 34, and 36.

Pohang won against these teams by scores of 2-1, or 1-0. Such a poor scoring card reflects the philosophy of the team’s coach Sergio Ricardo de Paiva Farias, who believes that, “Winning the game is important, not scoring many goals.” His goal is to win a game even though not many goals have been scored.

This philosophy, however, comes from the fact that the team has no ‘go-to’ player. After Lee Dong-guk (Middlesbrough) left for England, Pohang lacks capable strikers. Jonhes Elias Pinto Dos Santos and Cleber Schwenck Tiene can only do so much. This gap, however, is filled by skilled midfielders, including Kim Ki-dong. When combined with players on defense, they create a great team.

Pohang has offset its lack of scoring by making many free kicks. The gap created by a lack of agile strikers was filled by utilizing the most of its static offense opportunities. Tavares played an instrumental role in the success of this strategy.

Playing Safe against Seongnam-

It remains to be seen whether Pohang’s tactics will work on November 4 against Seongnam, which ranked first in the regular season. It may have been relatively easy to win against Suwon when it met in the playoffs, as Suwon was plagued by many issues, including player injuries (Baek Ji-hoon and Kim Dae-ui) and the “drinking scandal” of Lee Un-jae. On top of this, Suwon lost games because it had not played for a while after a layoff.

However, Seongnam is different in that it played in the Asian Football Confederation Championship league not long ago. The team includes Itamar, Motta, Kim Do-hyeon and Choi Seong-guk, who scored 43 goals in the regular season, and no players are injured. Pohang’s players, however, may be physically strained as they are playing every three days during its postseason tournaments.

KBSN Commentator Kim Dae-gil said, “Pohang is likely to play safely. If Seongnam takes the lead at the beginning of the game, Pohang, falling short of Seongnam in terms of physical strength, will have a hard time catching up to Seongnam.”