‘Samba Killer’ Gabriel (23) keeps Gangwon FC in the K League 1.
Gangwon defeated Gimpo FC 2-1 in the home second leg of the Hana OneQ K League 2023 Promotion Playoffs (PO) at Gangneung Sports Complex on September 9 to secure a thrilling retention. After a scoreless first leg, Gangwon won with back-to-back goals from Gabriel in the 5th and 30th minutes. Gimpo, who qualified for their first ever promotion PO, tried to make history when Cho Sung-kwon equalized in the 14th minute after trailing 0-1, but there was no drama.
After a shaky start to the season with an extremely thin squad, Gangwon made a bold move in the summer transfer market. Gabriel, who has played for Flamengo and SC Braga in the Brazilian Serie A (1st Division), was brought in as an emergency transfusion. And in a moment of desperation, he smiled.
It’s not often that a team brings in a foreign player who is nearly 8 percent of its roster outside of the winter preseason, but Kangwon was desperate and didn’t have time to look back. It was an all-or-nothing decision to sign Gabriel.
Of course, things didn’t go as planned. Gabriel’s first K League 1 goal came on September 16 against Jeonbuk Hyundai. He then scored against FC Seoul (away, October 22) and Jeju United (home, October 28), finishing the 14 regular season games with three goals and one assist. It was a 2% disappointment compared to expectations.
However, the team’s expectations were met with the promotion PO, especially the second leg, which set the stage for Gabriel. The third angel of the Old Testament, his name means ‘man of God’ or ‘hero’. And he lived up to his name. Coming off the bench and entering the game in the 22nd minute, Gabriel opened the scoring with an exquisite curling shot in the fifth minute of a tense second half, and added a second goal in the 30th minute off a side cross with the score tied at 1-1. 보스토토 도메인
For Gimpo, an unnecessary foul by a foreign striker ruined everything. Zupo Lewis was shown a red card in the 26th minute for elbowing Gabriel and was sent off.
To Gabriel, the ‘real fixer’ who organized the whole situation, Gangwon head coach Yoon Jeong-hwan said, “He really opened up. He showed his skills with firepower,” he said. Gabriel also said, “Even if I can’t say I’m fully adapted, next season will be better. I’m happy to score in a game like this and fulfill the team’s goal,” he said, vowing to continue his steady performance.