"We are a special team in the K League, nobody plays football like us": Gwangju FC's Timo Letschert
Gwangju FC continued their excellent start to the 2023 Hana 1Q K League 1 season on Sunday with a 4-3 win away to Daegu FC in what was the first 'Moonlight Derby' of the year. Dutch defender Timo Letschert helped Gwangju get up and running, too, with a superb assist for Kim Han-gil. K League United's Daegu FC columnist caught up with him in the mixed zone afterwards.
Round 7 came to a close with a seven-goal thriller on Sunday with Gwangju FC earning their fourth win of the season. It didn't come easy, though, with Gwangju pegged back to 3-3 after being 3-0 up. But an 87th-minute winner from Ha Seung-woon earned the Yellows the three points.
Timo Letschert, who joined Gwangju from Danish side Lyngby over the winter, has featured in all seven of the team's matches this term. After the game, Letschert about the team's goals this season, what he thinks about K League fan culture, as well as what makes this Gwangju team "special."
Q: Timo, what a game it was. 3-0 up, 3-3 and 4-3 win. How are you feeling?
A: "Tired, to be honest. We knew already that it's gonna be a tough game to come here at Daegu. They have a lot of quality, especially upfront but I think we controlled the game in the big parts. That's why we also scored three goals but then we were a little bit sloppy and we got some troubles also with Cesinha and Edgar. They play a different style so we had to dig deep and, a crazy game but very, very important three points."
Q: Gwangju were fantastic in the first half and you provided the assist for the first of many tonight. Can you talk us through that moment? Did you see your teammate running behind? Or it was more like just whipping the ball into the box?
A"No, it was funny because the coach, he showed me a clip of Manchester City before the game. Actually, it was, John Stones from Manchester City who tried to play a similar ball. He actually did it with his right foot, and I decided to do it at my weaker left foot, but it was not, something that we practice and that we talked about so it's an extra good feeling when this happens."
Q: In the second half, Daegu kept pushing for a goal and they made it 3-3 in the end. How were you feeling and what were you thinking by then about how this game could go?
A: "You know, it was physically tough because before the game I was also not feeling a hundred percent. I had some problems from the previous game with Pohang and from minute 70, I started to feel really bad, especially in my calf. It was really tight and then we conceded the third goal and I thought, what the hell's going on here? Unbelievable. Sometimes you start, you know, doubting like, maybe we are even going to lose. But I think it's a big, big quality mentally from the team that we are able to turn it around and still win this game. I think nobody saw this coming."
Q: You joined Gwangju this season, the newly promoted side and what was your expectation from the club and the league, and how has that changed after playing seven games?
A: "You know, I tried to come here with an open mind so don't have too many expectations. What surprised me is, especially the way we want to play football. I think we are a special team in the K League. Nobody plays football like us, but it comes with a lot of risk so we have to have big personalities to play like this. I can say that K League is a very physical league. I think the Korean players especially are very, very fit, you know, physically strong and they will go 90 minutes no matter what but I have to say I like it. And also the atmosphere in the stadium is very positive. From where I'm from, it's I think it's maybe more aggressive and hostile. I think the people here are very nice, so it's a good experience."
Q: So what is the team's goal for this season and how can you help the club in this regard?
A: "You know, the team goal, it's, I want to be honest, I want to keep this in the locker room. I don't want to speak too much. But for starters, we want to play top six and whatever happens, happens. But, I think we are on the right track."