‘Shield of Pangum’ Incheon’s Moon Ji-hwan, “What drives me is my appreciation for soccer”

“My biggest strength is not my physicality and defense, but my appreciation for soccer.”스포츠토토

Moon Ji-hwan (29) of K League 1’s Incheon United is a defensive midfielder in the league. The team’s signing of Shin Shin-ho (35) ahead of the season heralded fierce competition for a starting spot with Lee Myung-joo (33), Kim Do-hyuk (31), Lee Summer (34), and Lee Dong-soo (29), but he has exceeded expectations, starting 16 of Incheon’s 20 matches and cementing his place in the first-year squad.

“The team hasn’t been able to accumulate points, but I’m glad we’ve been getting results lately,” Moon recently told SportsDongA, “I know what role I need to play for the team. As I continue to dedicate myself, my performance and the team’s performance are improving,” he said, explaining his recent rise.

Moon Ji-hwan, the pillar of Incheon’s midfield, has been living up to his title as the Shield of Pangum. According to soccer statistician BeePro Eleven, Moon ranks first in interceptions (34), fifth in clearances (41), 15th in tackles (10), 19th in passes broken up (24), and sixth in aerial and ground ball wins (28) among all 41 central and defensive midfielders in the league who have played at least 10 games this season.

Unlike this season, last year was always a little disappointing. He cruised in the Incheon jersey from the 2020 season, but at the beginning of the 2021 season, when his form was at its peak, he could no longer put off his military service and joined the Gimcheon Commerce. In Gimcheon, he suffered an orbital fracture in the middle of last season, and the team was relegated to the second division.

“It wasn’t a smooth professional life, but before and after joining Gimcheon, I felt a lot of gratitude for soccer, because I saw a lot of players who couldn’t make a living from soccer,” he said. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t envy my teammates who were called up to the national team during my time in Gimcheon. However, I was able to get a lot of hints on what I should specialize in,” he said. “Rather than aiming for the Taekwondo mark and the best 11 in the league, we need to prepare well for the next game and continue to earn the trust of the coach,” he said.

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