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K League 2 Playoffs: Interview with Gyeongnam FC match-winner Tiago Orobó

Gyeongnam FC beat Bucheon FC 1995 on Wednesday night to advance to the next stage of the K League 2 Playoffs. The Roses struck late with Brazilian striker Tiago Orobó nodding in a dramatic 94th-minute winner to make it 3-2 with what was more or less the last passage of play. K League United caught up with Tiago to talk about the playoffs and how he's settled in so well to life in K League.

Tiago was named among the substitutes on Wednesday night against Bucheon. He watched on from the dugout as his team failed to register a single shot on goal. But at half time, manager Seol Ki-hyeon made a handful of changes - on came Kim Beom-yong, Mo Jae-hyeon, and Tiago.

This proved to be a masterstroke by Seol as, on the 57th minute, Tiago played in Mo Jae-hyeon to give Gyeongnam the lead. Tiago's lovely ball into the channel with the outside of the foot enabled Mo to delicately roll the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper.

Five minutes later, though, and Bucheon were level through a half-volley from centre back Lee Dong-hee. The two teams traded blows thereafter with Lee Gwang-jin scoring directly from a free-kick toward the touchline on 75 minutes before Song Hong-min levelled just three minutes later.

But, in the dying embers, with everything including the kitchen sink and Gyeongnam goalkeeper Goh Dong-min in the box, Tiago was most alert to nod the ball home. Cue pandemonium on the Gyeongnam dug out and, once the final whistle went, tears of joy from manager Seol Ki-yeon.

Up next for Gyeongnam FC is FC Anyang away this Sunday where Tiago will, again, be looking to fire in the winner.


Q: How's life in Korea and Changwon?

A: "It's my first time living in Korea, as well as for my wife, and I’m really enjoying my life here. Everyone’s very kind to me and I already knew that Korea is a good place for education before I came. The city of Changwon is a nice place for foreigners to live in, and also the team is treating me nicely. Overall, I am very satisfied with my life here as a whole." 

Q: What made you decide to come to K League and sign for Gyeongnam FC?

A: "I wasn’t satisfied with my life while playing in Saudi Arabia and that’s when Gyeongnam contacted me. Once they made an offer, I decided to come here and show what I’ve got. Then I transferred to Gyeongnam for a new challenge."

Q: Did you know anything about the team before joining? 

A: "Actually, I knew very little, maybe nothing about the club before joining. The transfer process was done in a very short period of time, leaving me almost no time to learn anything about the team beforehand."

Q: Had you watched K League before coming here?

A: "I would have to say no, I haven’t." 

Q: K League has always had a lot of Brazilian players. There are quite a few playing here at the moment. Do you speak to any of these guys?

A: "I tend to talk a little bit with them after the match, but I would say the one I talk to the most is Nilson Junior from Bucheon. We used to play together, so we talk to each other every once in a while." 

Q: Looking back on this season, what do you make of your performances and those of the team?

A: "I am quite satisfied with what we've done. Personally, I scored a lot of goals to contribute to the team. Maybe now I’m a bit far off from scoring the most goals in the league, but we as a team made it to the playoffs. Now we’re going to try even harder to make the best out of this season and get promoted. It’s fair to say we've had our ups and downs throughout the season, but we made it through as a team."


Q: What are your thoughts on making it to the playoffs?

A: "It has been our goal since the start of this season. Everyone from the manager, the players are truly happy that we actually made it happen." 

Q: Does this team have the potential to win promotion this year? 

A: "I don't think I could put a number on it, but I am sure we can get the result if we push ourselves to the limit in every game. Now we have to recover well and get ready for the next match, which I think is the best way to prepare for such an important match."

Q: "You adapted to K League very quickly. Is that something you felt as well?

A: "Come to think of it, I didn't actually expect myself to get used to the league this easily. There were Willian and Hernandes who helped me understand the plan and strategy the team and the manager had. A lot of Korean players helped me as well." 

Q: How important was winning the golden boot to you?

A: "It would’ve been great if I did make it. I already had the experience of doing so back in Brazil, so I know the feeling. Nevertheless, I hope I can make it up in the upcoming matches, scoring more goals if possible." 

Q: Was there a number of goals you had in mind before the start of this season? 

A: "I had a target of 17 goals, and so I’m pretty satisfied that I scored more than expected. Me and my agent make some kind of bet every time, and 17 goals was my best tally until now. Thanks to the bet, I scored more goals than expected." 

Q: Was it tough for you when Willyan and Hernandes left the team? 

A: "It wasn’t just me who found it difficult when they left, as the team was at its highest in terms of performance at the time. However, we had to endure things a bit as a team to make it to the playoff. Thanks to the physical coach and everyone in this team, we have been putting in great performances even after that." 

Q: When I spoke to Cho Yu-min earlier this season, the captain of Daejeon Hana Citizen, he said that you were the toughest forward player that he has faced this season. In particular, he emphasized your heading ability. What would you say to that?

A: "I feel flattered that Cho Yu-min said that. To be fair, he himself had been doing great in this league, making it to the national team. I sure try to make trouble for every defender I face on the pitch, but I also am aware that I have to create more chances for players around me even when I’m not scoring." 

Q: Would you also pick Cho Yu-min in return, as the hardest defender you've played against this season?

A: "Not just because he picked me, but I truly believe that he can made it to the national team based on his leadership, ability to control defense, man-to-man marking skills, and the drive he shows in matches. Again, I want to pay huge respect to what he does in the league." 

Q: Seol Ki-hyeon, the manager, is considered as a legend of Korean football, who was part the 2002 World Cup squad, he played in the Premier League He was a forward player like you. What have you picked up from him?" 

A: Not only did he help me adapt to the team, but he also gave a lot of advice on my movement and how to link up with the players around me. Thanks to that, I've been able to score a lot of goals this season. Also, as he himself has experience of being overseas, he takes good care of foreign players as well. I would say I have learned a lot from him being here." 

Q: (Apart from the winner versus Bucheon in the playoffs) What was the most memorable goal you have scored for Gyeongnam so far?

A: "I would have to say the one I scored against Gwangju FC in an away game where we won 4-1. We scored four against this year’s K League 2 champions on their own turf. Also, I scored from quite a way out and it went in quite nicely, I thought." 

Q: What do you think about that playoff rule where the home team only needs a draw?

A: "It’s definitely an advantage for [the home team] and it will be difficult for us but as long we don’t concede early, contain them and defend well, in the second half we will have chances to score so that rule will just encourage us to perform well, I think."

Q: Lastly, what message do you have for the Gyeongnam fans?  

"It would appreciate it a lot if all the supporters believe in us, as we are also determined that we can do it. All the support you send us helps us stay motivated every time we walk onto the pitch. We hope we can put on a great match and get the win as we hope." 

Translation by Kim Tae-hong

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