[Recent News][6]

K League 1
K League 2
Classic
FC Seoul
Jeonbuk
Daejeon
Featured
ACL
Challenge
AFC
Interview
Ulsan
Podcast
Incheon
Korean National Football Team
Jeonnam
Seoul E-Land
Daegu
Jeju
Busan
FA Cup
Suwon
KNT Men
Transfers
Gangwon
Gyeongnam
K-League Classic
Pohang Steelers
K League Challenge
Fans
Suwon Bluewings
Ansan
Gwangju
Seongnam FC
Anyang
Asan
Preview
Bucheon 1995
Suwon FC
Gaming
Daejeon Citizen
Bucheon
KNT
Football Manager
Abroad
Sangju
Citizen
From The Stands
Pohang
K League Classic
FM2018
Busan IPark
World Cup
Recap
Gimcheon
Awards
Korean national team
News
Elimination Game
FIFA
KFA
Asian Cup
EAFF
FM2017
Events
KNT Women
Chungbuk Cheongju
Gimpo
K League All Star Game
Cheonan
Chungnam
K3
Russia 2018
East Asia Cup
K4
Qatar 2022
playoffs
FIFA16
Power Rankings
Away Days
CONIFA
Cheongju
Club World Cup
Busan Transport
Chungju
Goyang
Inter Korea
North Korea
Ulsan Citizen
Yangpyeong FC
Asian Games
Chiangrai United
Cho Hyun-woo
Final A
Final B
Final Round
Goyang Citizen
K5
Mokpo City
National League
Pocheon
Russia 2020
SoRare
Survivor
TNTFC
Winners Circle
Yokohama
scouting

Farewell to Han Kook-young, Gangwon FC's Dependable Midfielder


It’s been almost seven years since Han Kook-young signed for Gangwon FC, with the experienced central midfielder joining the Bears in July 2017 from Qatar-based Al-Ghafara SC. Since then, the now 34-year-old cemented himself as key to the provincial club, playing under five different permanent managers, and rebounding from any setback presented to him. Now, Han Kook-young departs Gangwon for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, leaving columnist Nathan Sartain room to reminisce.


An Instant Impact


At the time Han Kook-young signed for Gangwon, it was part of the club’s highly ambitious endeavour to push themselves towards the AFC Champions League. After all, the central midfielder was still very much in his prime years at that time, had accumulated 41 caps for the South Korea National team, and boasted a strong reputation as a solid defensive midfielder, a position the club needed reinforcements in.

As it turns out, the club’s large ambitions weren’t to materialise, and Gangwon would go on to finish 6th in the 2017 K League 1 season, but that was certainly not down to their summer acquisition. Han Kook-young played in all but two of the Bears’ final 20 matches, and while the club’s form noticeably dipped - they only achieved four wins with the central midfielder involved in the matchday squad - the midfielder saw himself instantly praised for his performances. Per 90, he averaged 4.52 interceptions, 8.53 recoveries, eight successful duels, and 6.44 passes to the final third, all of which aided in solidifying a leaky team, without compromising on attacking drive.

A Key Cog

Quickly, then, Han Kook-young became vital to how Gangwon would play. Although missing the entirety of the 2018 season due to an ACL injury, the midfielder bounced back to feature in every single league game the Bears played in 2019, accumulating over 3400 hours of football in the process under manager Kim Byung-soo, who himself was earning acclaim for his progressive style of football dubbed “Byung-soo ball.” Integral to the team’s buildup with a per 90 average of 2.23 dribbles, 10.02 passes to the final third, 50.44 received passes, and 17.03 forward passes, Han helped Gangwon have a record-setting year that season, where they would accumulate their highest points tally (50), as well as their joint-highest win total (14) in K League 1 action.

This form continued into 2020, where Han Kook-young would again show his value across a season shortened due to COVID. At the heart of midfield, per 90 he averaged 9.64 passes to the final third, 1.3 passes to the penalty area, 8.64 recoveries, 4.58 interceptions, and 5.14 defensive duels, highlighting a strong overall balance for his commanding presence on the pitch.

 

Vital Goal, Vital Player

As the 2021 season came around, so did some struggle for Gangwon. Their fast-paced attacking football wasn’t bringing the results it previously had, and as a result the team found themselves in a relegation battle, as opposed to one for a Final A position. But here, Han Kook-young showed his tenacity, returning early from a dizziness issue to help a struggling team, and battling through a ruptured ankle ligament to ensure they would not go down.

But perhaps the most important contribution from Han Kook-young in 2021 was his promotion/relegation playoff goal against Daejeon Hana Citizen. As part of Gangwon’s lighting-fast turnaround which led them survive the threat of relegation, it was the reliable hand of their midfield who completed the comeback, putting his team 3-2 up on aggregate. For someone not known for being prolific, the calm dribble and collected finish epitomised the determination of Han Kook-young, cementing himself further as a potential club hero in the process.

All in all, for a player who actually considered retirement in 2021, Han Kook-young once again proved his mettle, and put his case forward for why he would continue to be a figurehead in the centre of the pitch for Gangwon in the coming years.

Captain Han Kook-young


That sentiment was one clearly recognised by Choi Yong-soo, too. Despite only playing six times in 2022 due to injury, Han Kook-young was happily brought back as an established starter in 2023, though again the team would struggle for form that year, winning just twice from their opening 25 games.

When Yoon Jong-hwan arrived, however, Han Kook-young's importance was recognised on an even greater level, as he was officially given the captain’s armband. Although the then 33-year-old had already led the team on a number of occasions, this was the real deal, and perhaps a sign he was going to be trusted to remain a core part of another manager’s plans.

In that vein, for the rest of the year, Han Kook-young helped build a more solid, even if a win-lacking Gangwon team, contributing by involving himself in a per 90 average of 3.94 interceptions, 7.51 defensive duels, 16.18 overall fuels, and making 8.05 recoveries. It wasn’t the midfielder at his best, sure, but the team benefited from his experience, and a dependable player is always a positive in a relegation battle.

The Future

This season, unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be for Han Kook-young and Gangwon. An overhauled midfield meant players like Kim Yi-seok and Kim Kang-guk (and more recently, Kim Dae-woo) were favoured over the captain, who didn’t feature again for the Bears after a brief six-game run of appearances largely spread across April.

So, that has meant change, and Han Kook-young has now signed for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, who will profit from his knowhow, box-to-box qualities on the pitch, and leadership. The role the 34-year-old played in helping Gangwon survive, improve, and in some cases thrive cannot be understated, and so fans are bound to recognise the impact of one of the club's longest-serving players in their short history as he departs, having made 164 appearances (eight goals, nine assists).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search