Young guns vying for top rookie honor

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Young guns vying for top rookie honor

Yoon Bitgaram, 20, of Gyeongnam FC and Ji Dong-won, 19, of the Chunnam Dragons, are vying for the K-League’s top rookie honors this year. Both are also rooming together as they fight for a spot on the 2011 Asian Cup national team in Seogwipo, Jeju Island.

With the Rookie of the Year award to be announced on Dec. 20 - based on votes from sports journalists - it is difficult to tell who will come out on top, especially since both Yoon and Ji had comparably good resumes this year.

“Dong-won keeps stating that I will be the obvious winner of the top rookie award,” Yoon said. “In all honesty, I would like to win the award, but Dong-won played really well at the Asian Games. I think he’ll end up winning it.”

Ji, a forward, scored seven goals and added three assists for the Dragons. He was selected for the U-23 national football team, which competed in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games and partnered with Park Chu-young to help Korea win a bronze last month.

“I don’t feel any pressure,” said Ji. “It’s for certain that Yoon will win, so I’ll be going to the awards ceremony to enjoy the festivities.”

Yoon, a midfielder, scored six goals and had five assists for Gyeongnam. Having been coached in the past by the current national team manager, Cho Kwang-rae, Yoon has become a mainstay on the national team’s midfield.

“It’s difficult to guess the winner at this point,” said national team defender Choi Hyo-jin. “Yoon is an intelligent player with excellent passing skills, while Ji possesses superb dribbling skills and an animal-like instinct. Both players deserve the award.”


By On Nu-ri [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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