At the age of 21, the starting defender of the ‘K League 2 No. 1 team’ and the ‘Anyang Calm Man’ Kim Ha-joon’s second year of work

FC Anyang, which advanced to the K League 2 (second division) playoffs as the second-place regular league in the 2021 season and the K League promotion playoffs as the third-place team in the 2022 season, finished the 2023 season in sixth place, accepting a slightly disappointing report card than usual.

Still, Anyang, led by coach Yoo Byung-hoon, has been producing remarkable results by ranking No. 1 through the 16th round (9 wins, 3 draws, 2 losses and 30 points). It was the moment when Anyang’s “flower bud soccer” gave off the scent of purple flowers.

And the “second-year professional” defender, who was born in 2002, who made a solid contribution to his team’s lead in the race, remained calm and confident during interviews. He is Kim Hajun (21), who was recognized by the coach and maintained his team’s central defense as a starter until recently.

Sports Korea met Kim Ha-joon at Anyang Stadium in Gyeonggi-do and heard about how he felt about his second year as a professional and what he wanted to achieve in Anyang.

The “reduced number of runs” is a must for Anyang’s positive change this season. Anyang ranked second among the 13 K-League 2 teams with 58 goals last season, but it allowed 51 goals, the fifth-highest number of goals. Despite scoring a lot of goals, the team also allowed a lot of goals, making it difficult to gain points.

This season, however, he has allowed only 13 runs in 14 games, ranking first in the number of runs scored. Captain Lee Chang-yong played in all of the games as a central defender, but there have been so many changes that Kim Young-chan and Park Jong-hyun have rotated and were injured, and recently Kim Hajun, a “second-year professional” player, has appeared. It is surprising to maintain the minimum number of runs in such a situation.

This also means Kim’s growth. Coach Yoo Byung-hoon also expressed his faith by mentioning Kim’s physical growth, speed, and linkages through left-footed passes. Kim started five of Anyang’s recent six games and took charge of central defense, while Anyang has displayed consistent defense capability by allowing four runs in Kim’s recent five starts.

“Last season, I played 17 games as a substitute without starting, gaining experience in various positions. I was evaluated as weak physically, so I gained a lot of help from my physical coach in the offseason. I think that’s the biggest reason why I’m receiving opportunities faster than last season.”

“I have so many things to learn from you. I feel the power of a veteran in terms of spirit and performance. Especially, he has a great sense of where he is at defense,” Kim said of “captain” Lee Chang-yong, who is also a central defensive partner.

Then, what kind of advice does coach Yoo Byung-hoon, who was also a former central defender, give to Kim Ha-joon? “He stresses that not only physical development but also the pass to the front must survive. When opposing players rush to me, I need to know how to open the way for offense by sending passes to free teammates on the opposite side,” Kim said. “Compared to what the coach is asking, I am still not very good at it. Still, I am working hard, taking note of what you said.”

He continued, “When I came here as a professional from university, the pressure was different. However, the seniors and brothers I met in Anyang said, ‘It’s natural that I feel that way. You can learn from now on,’ so I am playing soccer with a more stable mind. Not only Chang-yong hyung, but also Young-chan, Jong-hyun, and defensive midfielder (Kim) Jung-hyun, who are in the same position, give me a lot of praise and advice.” 안전놀이터

Lastly, regarding his goal for this season, Kim said, “Teamally, it is automatically promoted to the K League 1 through winning the championship. Personally, I want to compete with my brothers and receive comments after the end of the season that Kim has contributed to the promotion of Anyang. In particular, it would be great to hear that from coaches, coaches and older brothers.”

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