Ji-so-yeon “Jimeshi” Ji (Suwon FC Wimin) is determined to lead Suwon FC to its first WK League championship in 13 years after ending Incheon Hyundai Steel’s 11-game losing streak.
Ji’s Suwon FC defeated Hwacheon KSPO 2-1 in extra time in the WK League playoffs on Nov. 11 to advance to the championship game for the first time in four years since 2019. It will be 13 years since they won the trophy in 2010. Incheon Hyundai Steel, with its ‘national lineup’ of Kim Jung-mi at the back, Kim Hye-ri, Lim Sun-joo, Hong Hye-ji, Kim Do-yeon, Jang Seul-ki, Lee Min-ah, Jang Chang, and Jung Seol-bin, Kang Chae-rim, and Son Hwa-yeon up front, will attempt to win its 11th consecutive title after losing 11 straight regular season games. This season’s champion will be crowned in the first and second leg of the championship match, which will be held at Suwon at 2 p.m. on the 19th and Incheon at 2 p.m. on the 25th.
Ji-so-yeon has been nicknamed “the wizard” by foreign media for leading teams to championships such as Kobe Ainak in Japan and Chelsea Wimmin in England. The ‘magic’ continued with Suwon FC, who returned to the WK League after a hiatus last year. Suwon FC’s rise to prominence has been fueled by the “magic of Ji So-yeon,” who constantly infuses the team with winning mentality and leads the league in assists with six. Moon Mi-ra, Choo Hyo-joo, and Jeon Eun-ha, the national team’s attacking line, Kwon Eun-som and Ji Sun-mi, and the defense anchored by veteran Shim Seo-yeon and youngest player Kwon Hee-sun were harmonious and cohesive. Even in the playoffs against Hwacheon KSPO, who finished third this year, ‘Jimeshi’ shined. In the 18th minute of the first half, Moon Mi-ra, who took over from Ji So-yeon’s sensible long pass, rattled the net to take the lead. Mebae Tanaka’s goal in the seventh minute of overtime sealed the 2-1 victory. Ji So-yeon’s dedication to the game was dazzling, inspiring her teammates to fight for the entire 120 minutes, slipping in kill passes, shutting down defenses, and finding the back of the net. She was the undisputed playoff MVP.레모나토토 주소
For the final match against Incheon Hyundai Steel, Ji described it as a “mental battle”. “It will be a very tense game. “It will be a very tense game. Whoever wants the trophy more will take it home,” she said. When asked how desperate she was, she replied, “Desperate enough to leave Chelsea.” “I came back to the WK League with that kind of desire. When I said I came to the WK League to stop Incheon Hyundai Steel, people thought I was joking, but I was serious,” she said. “And now that I have that opportunity, I’m going to give it a good go as a challenger,” he said, his eyes shining. ‘
His reasons for choosing South Korea over Chelsea’s Emma Hayes, and for choosing Suwon FC over ‘absolute favorites’ Incheon Hyundai Steel, were clear. She hoped for a league that would be more competitive and develop together, rather than the obvious ‘Hyundai Steel (Uhyeon) will win the championship anyway’ system. “Incheon Hyundai Steel is the team that invests the most, so it’s natural for them to lose 10 games in a row. Other teams need to invest as well. On the other hand, it’s not a huge investment compared to world-class clubs and men’s professional teams. I hope that more women’s soccer clubs will raise the bar.”
This season, Ji So-yeon’s Suwon FC has been strong against Incheon Hyundai Steel with two wins and one loss. They won the first match 1-0 in March, lost the second match 1-0 in May, and won the third match 2-1 in June. “Regardless of the outcome, the match against Hyundai Steel was very tight in terms of content,” Ji So-yeon reflected ahead of the first leg of the championship match at Anbang on June 19. “The championship game will also be tight. The first game at home is really important. We need to win the first game. It’s a home game. We can’t afford to lose,” he said emphatically. “We haven’t won a trophy in 13 years. We are not lacking in power or mental strength. There is an atmosphere of let’s do it. It’s worth it. Everyone wants to break Hyundai’s monopoly,” he said, adding that he was eager to win. “It will definitely be a hard-fought match. It will come down to who is more decisive and focused in finishing. Set pieces will also be important. Incheon Hyundai Steel has a good free-kicker and Suwon has me,” he said, expressing confidence. “It will come down to who is more challenging, who is more aggressive, and how they approach the game. We’ll see which team is more desperate,” he smiled.
Incheon Hyundai Steel veteran defender Kim “Captain” Hery. Photo credit: Incheon Hyundai Steel
The matchup between Incheon Steel’s best friend Captain Kim Hye-ri and Jin Gum-seung, who have been in the national team for nearly 20 years, including a third-place finish at the U-20 Women’s World Cup, will also be a point of interest. They will face each other for the first time in the WK League championship match. Ji So-yeon said, “A match is just a match. We will fight with all our might to give our fans a better game,” said Ji.
This season has been a trial for the women’s national soccer team. They failed to fulfill their dream of reaching the round of 16 at the Women’s World Cup in Australia-New Zealand, missed out on a medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games due to controversial officiating, and missed out on qualifying for the Paris Olympics by a hair. In the final WK League championship match of the season, she said she was determined to give it her all for the pride of Korean women’s soccer. “We promised to show soccer fans the quality of the WK League with hard-fought, high-level, and entertaining matches,” she said.