Incheon United head coach Cho Sung-hwan has expressed his faith in his young players.

Incheon won their 2023-24 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) Group G match against Yokohama 2-0 in the fifth leg at the Incheon Football Stadium at 7 p.m. on Monday. Incheon is tied with Shandong and Yokohama on nine points (three wins and two losses), but moves into second place with a winner-take-all tie against Yokohama.

For Incheon, it was their last chance to advance to the round of 16. With the top three teams in the ACL Group Stage advancing to the Round of 16, Yokohama and Shandong Taishan were tied for first and second place with three wins and one loss through four games. A loss on the day would have guaranteed Incheon’s elimination. However, they kept their hopes of advancing to the Round of 16 alive with a 4-2 win away from home and a 2-1 victory at Yokohama in the first leg.

Incheon took the lead in the 11th minute when Hong Si-hoo’s shot rattled the net. Incheon, who defended tightly and took their chances, extended their lead in the 21st minute through Hernandez. Despite conceding a late goal from a corner kick in the final minute of the game, Incheon held on for the win.

After the game, head coach Cho Sung-hwan said, “I’m glad we were able to give our fans a win in our last home game of the season. The players did their best to show their satisfaction with this season and their expectations for next season. Fans and players alike are united in our goal of passing the group stage. We will finish the remaining league matches well.”

Incheon had to rely on younger players like Park Seung-ho and Hong Si-hoo as starters due to injuries to key players. Coach Cho Sung-hwan said, “I was worried about the players who were playing for the first time on this stage. They had their own motivation in the preparation process, both in life and in the game. Hong Si-hoo is a player who can go to the age group national team, and the same goes for Park Seung-ho. They prepared well, and that’s why they played well. I’m looking forward to next year, and I think they’ve helped ease the coach’s worries.”

On the day, goalkeeper Kim Dong-heon made some outstanding saves to protect Incheon’s goal. Coach Cho Sung-hwan said, “I told him to delay his military enlistment. If he says he can postpone it, I hope he will postpone it so that he can play against Kaya.”

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