Kim and Cho win Player of the Year awards

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Kim and Cho win Player of the Year awards

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Kim Young-gwon, left, and Cho So-hyun pose with their Korea Football Association Player of the Year trophy on Wednesday in Seoul. [NEWSIS]

National team players Kim Young-gwon and Cho So-hyun were named Players of the Year by the Korea Football Association (KFA) on Wednesday.

In the men’s category, defender Kim edged two-time Player of the Year winners Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur and Ki Sung-yueng of Swansea City to claim his first award at the KFA awards ceremony in Seoul. Son won in 2013 and 2014, while Ki took the award in 2011 and 2012.

Kim played a pivotal role for his Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao FC to win the Asia Football Confederation Champions League and claim the Chinese Super League. Last week, the 27-year-old also played in the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan for Guangzhou’s semifinal run.

In the national team, Kim helped Korea finish as runners-up in the Asian Cup in January and win the EAFF East Asian Cup in July as captain. He also contributed to the Taegeuk Warriors’ undefeated run in the 2018 FIFA World Cup second round Asian qualifiers.

“This year is the best year of my football career,” Kim said. “I think I won the award because our national team finished so many games without conceding goals. I want to perform next year like I did this year.”

In the women’s category, midfielder Cho was named the winner for the first time. She was national team captain in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada this June and helped Korea to the Round of 15 for the first time in its history.

The 27-year-old midfielder scored the equalizer against Spain for Korea to pass the group stage, while getting a goal against Japan in the EAFF East Asian Cup. She also helped her club Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels to the top of the WK League for three consecutive seasons.

Cho edged her national teammates Jeon Ga-eul, Kim Jung-mi and Ji So-yun. Ji, who recently inked a two-year contract extension with her English club Chelsea Ladies, was looking for her fifth trophy. “I think I’m receiving this award because our national team played well,” she said.

“Since this award is given for me to work harder, I will try my best next year to give more happiness back to fans.”

The Player of the Year award is based on votes from the KFA’s technical committee members and chief football reporters in the Korea Sports Press Union.

Meanwhile, the Young Player of the Year award was given to Ulsan Hyundai High School defender Lee Sang-min who also played for the under-17 national team, while defender Hong Hye-ji won in the women’s category.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [joo.kyungdon@joongang.co.kr]

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