Young footballers off to play in Brazil

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Young footballers off to play in Brazil


Danone Nations Cup, FIFA’s biggest youth football competition, will start Nov. 14 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and among the 32 teams that made it through preliminaries in their home countries will be 12 young footballers from Seoul Soonggok Elementary School.

The school is well known for alumnus Jang Gyeol-hee, 16, who now plays for FC Barcelona’s youth team.

Over the three-day tournament in Brazil, the teams will be divided into eight groups and will compete to determine who will advance to the Round of 16. The matches last 20 minutes without halftime.

The Korean youth were grouped with Spain, Italy and Paraguay and are scheduled to fly to Brazil on Monday. Danone Pulmuone has sponsored the Korean team each year since 2010, when the company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Korea Youth Football Association. Adidas Korea is also a sponsor this year.

The tournament will be held at the Arena Corinthians, which was built for the FIFA World Cup this summer. The young football players will meet Marcos Evangelista de Morais, a retired Brazilian footballer better known as Cafu.

“Danone Nations Cup was designed to give hope and opportunities to little footballers who dream to become world-famous players,” said a marketing officer of Danone Pulmuone. “The competition will be a chance for the talented children to show their abilities to the world.”

Of the 32 participating teams, Korea is not an underdog. Pohang Jechoeldong Elementary School won the 2012 Danone Nations Cup in Poland. Lee Seung-woo, who competed in 2010 in South Africa, was the top scorer that year with 12 goals and was selected as the competition’s MVP. He went on to become a member of FC Barcelona’s youth team in 2011.

The Danone Nations Cup has successfully launched players around the world, including defender Phil Jones of England and Jonathan dos Santos of Mexico.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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