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Kim Jin-su looks forward to the future

Jeonbuk defender is confident in the team, despite new manager

Feb 23,2019
After missing the past two FIFA World Cups, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors defender Kim Jin-su hopes to compete at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. [OH JONG-CHAN]
With the 2019 K League 1 season starting in less than a week, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors defender Kim Jin-su is hoping that this year will be another successful one.

Jeonbuk had a dominant season last year in the K League 1, winning the season title with six matches still remaining in the season. This year, it’s harder to make any assumptions as to how Jeonbuk will play as they are starting the season under new management.

Once the 2018 season ended, former manager Choi Kang-hee announced he would leave for the Chinese Super League. Jeonbuk appointed Jose Morais as the team’s new head coach.

Under their former manager Choi, Jeonbuk became a dominant team in the K League 1. Since Choi got appointed as head coach in 2005, he has led the team to five K League titles and two Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League titles.

Jeonbuk may have lost their head coach, but the team is still looking strong with veteran Lee Dong-gook and Kim on the pitch. Kim is confident that they’ll continue this success with their new coach Morais.

To other teams and K League fans, Jeonbuk is still considered a top candidate to win the title this year.

“Our head coach said the goal for the season is to win three titles [K League, FA Cup and AFC Champions League], and I don’t think that’s impossible,” Kim said.

Among Korean football fans, Kim is considered one of the unluckiest players when it comes to playing for the national team. Kim, left back, has proved to be good enough of a player to be on the national team, but had no luck when it came to actually competing at the FIFA World Cup.

Kim was selected for the final 23-man team for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil but had to leave the squad right before the opening match due to an ankle injury. He was added to the national team squad ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia but, once again, was injured before the tournament.

“I wasn’t at a condition to compete at the World Cup last year,” Kim said. “So I went up to head coach Shin Tae-yong first and told him that I don’t think I can do it.”

“I watched [Korea’s] first group match against Sweden at home on TV,” Kim said. “I didn’t think that I’d be so emotional, because I already missed the spot for the 2014 World Cup. But my heart started pounding 30 minutes before the kickoff. When Park Joo-ho, who plays the same position as I do, got injured in the first half [of the match]. I just got very emotional and started crying.”

Following the FIFA World Cup, Korea also had another big tournament to compete in - the AFC Asian Cup. Since Kim was injured in March 2018, it was uncertain as to whether he’ll be able to compete at the Asian Cup, which kicked off in January 2019, as he took seven months off from playing. In seven matches throughout the 2018 season with Jeonbuk, Kim scored one goal.

Although Kim only returned in October, he’s done just enough to get his name onto the Korean national football team head coach Paulo Bento’s final roster for the Asian Cup in December.

Kim made sure Bento didn’t waste his selection. During Korea’s round of 16 match against Bahrain, he scored the winning header in the first half of the extra time.

“It was my first header since middle school,” Kim said. “I could say it was lucky. The head coach told me to get inside the penalty box. I waved at Lee Yong, who made the cross, to pass me the ball, and luckily that was a goal.”

Following a winning goal in the knockout stage, Kim could have been the hero once again in the quarterfinals against Qatar. While the teams were tied at 0-0, Kim took a free kick in the 77th minute, but his shot landed just outside the right post.

As Korea failed to score a goal throughout the match, Korea lost 0-1 to Qatar and made an early exit from this year’s Asian Cup.

“In results, Qatar was a better team [than Korea],” Kim said. “If my free kick hit just a little more inside of the goal post, the result might have been different.”

Now that the AFC Asian Cup is over, the next international tournament on the calendar is the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. By that time, Kim will be 30 years old. Although Kim didn’t have much luck when it came to competing at the World Cup, this time, he is determined to compete, as it could potentially be his last tournament for the national team.

“It might be too early to say, but I’ll consider it as my last tournament in my football career and work hard for the next three years,” Kim said. “I couldn’t compete in Brazil and Russia so I really want to compete in Qatar.”

BY PARK RIN, KANG YOO-RIM [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]


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