‘Kang Hee-Je’ Choi leads Shandong to first win in Son Jun-Ho’s absence

Like Kang Hee-je, who ushered in the heyday of the Qing Dynasty, can Choi Kang-hee give Shandong Taishan a second chance?

Shandong Taishan cruised to a 3-0 victory over Shenzhen FC in Matchday 9R of the 2023 Chinese Super League regular season on 24 April. Despite the absence of key player Son Jun-ho, coach Choi Kang-hee’s mercenary skills shone through.스포츠토토

Although the opponent was Shenzhen, who had been struggling with wage arrears and were expected to collapse, Shandong were also struggling with one win, five draws and two losses.

The fans had a unique cheer that seemed to foretell victory. They described the coach as “Kang Hee-je”, the Qing dynasty’s heyday, a name-based play on words and an “artistic” way of expressing their wishes.

Did it work? After taking the lead through an own goal after just four minutes, Shandong made it 3-0 in the second half with back-to-back goals in the 14th and 35th minutes from Brazilian mercenary Crijang. The defensive tactics were also superb, as they didn’t allow their opponents a single chance.

With the win, Shandong jumped to eighth place in the league. It’s still early in the season, but it’s a position that could see them join the championship playoffs instead of the relegation playoffs.

Choi’s Shandong side have been rocked by match-fixing allegations against his predecessor, Hao Wei, with Son Jun-ho, who was due to leave the country as part of the investigation, being held in custody at the airport and is yet to be named in the line-up.

If Choi can turn the club’s fortunes around, it will be a golden opportunity for him to show what he can do after Shanghai Shenhua.

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