Anton’s pride: “I will be the best center back in the K League…I was excellent in the defense in Daejeon”
Daejeon Hana Citizens defender Anton expresses his confidence in himself and the team.
After winning promotion to the K League One for the first time in eight years, Daejeon sought foreign center back reinforcements last winter and announced the signing of Azerbaijan international defender Anton on February 21, five days before their first match. The timing of the signing didn’t matter to Anton. He started straight away against Gangwon FC in the first round and kept a clean sheet in the win. At the time, teammate Cho Yoo-min, who played with Anton for the first time in an official match, praised his new teammate, saying he would be one of the best center backs in the K League.
He wasn’t wrong.메이저놀이터 After the opening match, Anton’s steady performance made him an indispensable player for Daejeon. He’s played 12 games in the K League 1, switching between left wingback and center back. His impact on the team is also growing. He cries for his younger teammate’s first goal in the K League 1 and lifts the morale of his teammates when the game is tight.
His confidence in himself and his teammates is the foundation of his performance. In a written interview, Anton said, “I agree with my teammates that I will be one of the best center backs in the K League. With the help of my teammates, I have the pride to be the best center back in the league,” he said.
- He adapted quickly to the K League. He started right from the opening game, and I remember my first teammates, including Cho Yoo-min, saying that he would be one of the best center backs in the K League.
When I first arrived, I thought it would be difficult to adapt because of the cultural and language differences and being away from my family, but it wasn’t as difficult as I thought. My teammates helped me a lot. I agree with my teammates that I will be one of the best center backs in the K League. With the help of my teammates on the field, I am proud that I can become a top center back.
Anton (left) and Cho Yoo-min (Daejeon Hana Citizen). Reporter Seo Hyung-kwon
- You’ve played against each of the K League 1 teams, what is your first-hand experience of the K League?
All teams are difficult to play against. They come out strong in every game. I think that’s the strength of the K League. You have to prepare thoroughly every week. It’s a good opportunity to improve. It’s good to learn a new soccer culture in a new environment.
- Is there a player or team that stands out in your mind?
The player is Suwon FC Ras. I remember that he was hard to play against because he was physically fit and strong. The team is Ulsan Hyundai. I didn’t play against Ulsan last time due to a red card, but from what I saw, they have a lot of technical and clever players. I’m looking forward to the upcoming match against Ulsan.
- You can play left center back or left wing back, but your attacking instincts stand out when you are deployed as a wing back.
I don’t have a favorite position, I play according to the coach’s needs. When he plays center back, he’s more concerned with competing for aerial balls, and when he plays wing back, he’s more concerned with defending and getting involved in the attack. Usually sidebacks think about crosses first, but I try to finish once I’m in the attack.
Lars (left, Suwon FC) and Anton (right, Daejeon Hana Citizen). Courtesy of Daejeon Hana Citizen
- Daejeon is highly regarded for the individual performance of its defenders, but it seems to concede a lot of goals.
It’s true that our defenders have high individual capabilities. It’s important to complement each other’s weaknesses, but it hasn’t been a long time since I joined the team. It’s been a long time since Daejeon hasn’t played in the K League 1. Over time, I think we will be able to unite more and show good form.
- The other day, when 2002-born striker Jeon Byung-kwan scored his first goal in the K League 1, it was impressive to see him congratulate you. He seemed to be very emotional.
When you score a goal, you feel a lot of emotions. When I saw his face, he was crying, and I realized that this emotion could be important for his soccer career, so I lifted him up and congratulated him. I’m sure the players around him felt similarly.
- At halftime of the 12th round match against Suwon FC, the fans also talked about how he actively encouraged the players after the game.
I tend to talk a lot when my teammates are struggling. At that time, I thought it was my moment to speak, so I said something that could motivate my teammates. It’s also because of the nature of the position. Aside from the goalkeeper, center back is the position where I can see the team as a whole. I thought the opponent would come out stronger in the second half, so I spoke up.
Anton (Daejeon Hana Citizen). Courtesy of Daejeon Hana Citizen
- In just three months, I feel like I’ve fully integrated into the team. Some people joke that he’s a “local boy” from the Daejeon youth team. Where are you from?
I was born in Ukraine, where I lived until I was 16. I spent a lot of my childhood in Mariupol. It’s a different story, but I’m sorry that the city I grew up in was destroyed by the war. At the age of 18 I went to Azerbaijan, where I got my nationality and went through the age group national team. If you want to know more, I can write a letter of introduction (laughs).
- Have you ever heard the phrase ‘passports should be confiscated’? It’s a phrase used by Korean fans when a foreign player is doing well and they want him to stay with the team.
When we won 3-2 against FC Seoul, I was resting at home when I was bombarded with social media messages. I was surprised by the number of texts saying they wanted to take my passport. At first I thought they were serious. I realized it was a joke, and my passport is safe at home.
- Do you have a message for the fans of Daejeon?
I think the fans are the 12th player. When you’re struggling on the field, their cheers and shouts give you a lot of energy. I am grateful for every moment. Please continue to support me in my next matches.