Bengaluru: 4.25 SC Captain An Il-bom has emphasised the importance of working together as the forward prepares to lead the DPR Korea club out against JSW Bengaluru in the first leg of the AFC Cup Inter-Zone semi-final on Wednesday.
An wore the skipper’s armband as tournament debutants 4.25 progressed to the knockout rounds, scoring twice in the group stage to pip compatriots Kigwancha SC to top spot in the Group I standings.
But it was his strike partner Kim Yu-song who grabbed most the headlines in netting a competition-leading nine goals in just four games as the Pyongyang-based club qualified for the next stage at the first time of asking.
“Kim Yu-song is a really good player,” An told the-AFC.com ahead of training at a saturated Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Tuesday evening.
“He’s our striker, he does a really good job and I think for the match he’ll be at his best.
“But we’re a team and not about the individual players. Everyone has to try their best to work well together and then we can get a good result.”
After going off in 4.25’s opening-day win over Mongolia’s Erchim FC, An did not play again until his side’s third match – a 2-2 draw with Kigwancha in the Pyongyang derby.
Trailing 2-0 with 20 minutes to play, the 26-year-old pulled one back before striker Kim scored deep into stoppage time with a goal that would ultimately send 4.25 through thanks to a marginally better head to head against Kigwancha.
An added another to his tally in a 5-0 victory over Erchim in their fourth and final Group I game to confirm top spot and be crowned East Asia Zonal champions.
“Right now we feel a little bit tired because of the flight here,” added An, whose team only arrived in Bengaluru on Tuesday.
“But we practiced a lot in DPR Korea to prepare for the match and I think our condition is pretty good. Both teams are very strong so it will be interesting.”
Head coach Hwang Yong-song, meanwhile, noted that his side would face stern opposition but has his eyes firmly fixed on progressing further into the competition with a group of players that know each other well.
“We think Bengaluru are a very strong team and have many good players,” said Pak. “They have four India internationals and also some foreign players so we think they have good players.
“Our team has many young players but we have played together for a long time. This is the first time we have participated in the AFC Cup and we have won some games.
“Now we’re playing Bengaluru and first of all we hope to win this game and proceed to the next stage.”