Daejeon Hana Citizens defender Anton has expressed 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 centre-back reinforcements last winter and announced the signing of Azerbaijan international defender Anton on 21 February, 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 centre-backs in the K League.

He wasn’t wrong. After the opening match, Anton’s steady performances have made him an indispensable player for Daejeon. He has played 12 games in the K League 1, switching between left wing-back and centre-back. In addition to his performances, his influence on the team is growing. He celebrates his younger teammate’s first goal in the K League 1 and lifts the spirits 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 centre-backs in the K League. With the help of my teammates, I have the pride to be the best centre-back in the league,” he said.

  • He adapted quickly to the K League. I remember my first teammates, including Cho Yoo-min, saying that I would be one of the best centre-backs in the K League.

When I first arrived, I thought it would be difficult to adapt because I was away from my family and there were cultural and language differences, 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 centre-backs in the K League. With the help of my teammates on the pitch, I am confident that I can become a top centre-back.

Anton (left) and Cho Yoo-min (Daejeon Hana Citizen). 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 football 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 difficult 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 centre-back or left wing-back, but your attacking instincts stand out when you are deployed as a wing-back.

I don’t have a favourite position, I play according to the coach’s needs. When he plays centre-back, he’s more concerned with winning aerial balls, and when he plays wing-back, he’s more concerned with defending and getting involved in attacks. Usually side-backs 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 that we complement each other’s weaknesses, but it hasn’t been a long time since I joined the team. It’s also been a long time since Daejeon hasn’t played in the K League 1. Over time, we’ll be able to work as a team and do well.

  • 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 realised that this emotion could be important for his football 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. Centre-back is the position where you can see the whole team, apart from the goalkeeper. 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 is a ‘local boy’ from the Daejeon youth team. Where are you from?

I was born in Ukraine, where I lived until the age of 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, got my nationality and went through the age group national team. If you want to know more, I can write a personal statement (laughs).

  • Have you ever heard the phrase ‘passports should be confiscated’? It’s a phrase used by Korean fans when a foreign player does well and they want him to stay with the team.

When we won 3-2 against FC Seoul,안전놀이터 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 realised 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 having a hard time on the court, 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.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *