Rookie Ji sets sights on seven

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Rookie Ji sets sights on seven

Chunnam Dragons rookie forward Ji Dong-won is playing a crucial role for Korea at the AFC U-19 Championship in China, with his eyes set on a personal goal.

Prior to the start of the tourney featuring the 16 best U-19 squads in Asia, Ji said he was targeting seven goals in the competition.

National team and AS Monaco forward Park Chu-young made a name for himself at the tourney in 2004 by scoring six goals and earning the tournament’s MVP award.

Ji wants to do one better by notching seven goals, and he’s off to a great start as he scored the winning goals in Korea’s wins over Iran (2-0) and Yemen (1-0).

Having secured a place in the quarterfinals with two wins, Korea played its final group stage match against Australia last night.

“We did not score as many goals as we had hoped, so everyone was down a bit,” said Ji. “But we have great team chemistry so I’m not worried. We haven’t shown half of our capabilities. We have many skilled and quick players. We just need to stick to our game plan.”

Despite scoring the winning goals against Iran and Yemen, Ji has been critical of his own play.

“If I had to grade myself, I would give myself 50 out of 100 for the Iran game and less than 50 for the game against Yemen,” said Ji. “I hit the post on a penalty kick but managed to score off a header.

“I have scored a total of 13 goals [eight in league play and five in the FA Cup] and only one of them was off a header. I will reach my personal aspiration of seven goals by the end of the tourney.”

With Ji performing well in the first two games, other teams have taken notice and are targeting the 19-year-old forward in their defensive game plan.

“I feel good. If they assign more defenders to mark me, it will open up more room for other players on the team,” said Ji.

With Japan currently in first place in Group C, there is a strong possibility that Korea will face its archrival Japan in the quarterfinals on Monday. The AFC U-19 Championship is a qualifier for the 2011 U-20 World Cup in Colombia.

The top four teams from the current tourney will represent Asia at the U-20 World Cup next year.


By Lee Jung-chan [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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