Nam Tae-hee determined to be starterForward Nam Tae-hee of Valenciennes FC in Ligue 1 has two clear goals this year: to earn a starting spot on his club and to make the U-20 national football team for the U-20 World Cup in Columbia from July 29 to Aug. 20.
“I want to be selected to the national team to compete at the U-20 World Cup in Colombia,” the 19-year-old Nam said. “It’s something I’ve always dreamed about.
“I was prevented from competing for the national team at the East Asian Football Championship in February last year because my club was reluctant to let me go.”
Nam, along with current national team forward Ji Dong-won, was selected by the Korea Football Association as rising Korean stars and sent to Reading FC Youth Academy in England to train in September 2007.
Nam was considered the more talented of the two players and he signed a contract with Valenciennes FC in August 2008, while Ji returned to Korea.
“To be honest, I’m jealous,” said Nam. “At the Reading FC Youth Academy, Ji was the only player who did not receive an offer. But Dong-won is [now] mentally strong and mature,” because he went back to Korea and has a spot on the national team.
“I hope Dong-won plays well so that Korea can win the Asian Cup,” Nam said.
Nam most recently played the entire game in a 2-1 loss against Angers in Ligue 2.
“Soon after the start of the match, I had a one-on-one chance with the opposing goalkeeper,” said Nam. “If I had scored then, we would’ve been in a good situation, but I tried to put too much strength into my shot and it was blocked.
“The loss was regrettable for the team and also on a personal level because I could’ve continued to earn playing time if we advanced.”
But Nam, coming off a tough year in which he had to deal with injuries, is determined to prove his worth with Valenciennes FC in 2011.
“I’m in good physical condition at this point and I’ve earned the trust of our manager, Philippe Montanier,” Nam said. “I know I still have shortcomings, but I’ll try my best to earn a starting spot on the team.
“I personally think that goals tend to follow when you earn steady playing time.”
By Kim Min-kyu, Jason Kim [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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