U-20 squad ready for World Cup

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U-20 squad ready for World Cup


The members of the Korean U-20 national football team pose at a media event at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi on Monday. [YONHAP]

After Shin Tae-yong, manager of the Korean U-20 national football team, finalized the 21-man roster last Friday, he called the team to the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi to start its training on Monday.

As of now, Shin has set a goal of finishing first in the group matches with two wins and one tie, advancing at least to the quarterfinals.

“Since the event is being hosted at home, I feel some pressure as well,” Shin said. “My role is to help the younger players play with confidence. We will respond to the fan’s support with good results.”

The members of the Korean U-20 national football team have shown a strong will to produce good results at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, being held at home, hoping to repeat the success of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Just like their coach, the players also look to get as far as the quarterfinals. The team’s key players, Lee Seung-woo, forward for FC Barcelona Jevenil A, and Paik Seung-ho, midfielder for FC Barcelona B, also have high expectations for the upcoming event.

“I didn’t get to play a lot at my club,” Paik said. “So I have not been able to meet fans’ expectations. For this reason, the U-20 World Cup is a good opportunity for me. Depending on how I play, my future will change.”

Though Paik may not have played a large role for FC Barcelona B, he proved his ability through Korea’s friendly matches in March, scoring two goals.

In the same way that the 2002 World Cup team inspired passion amongst Korean football fans 15 years ago, the young players hope to inspire the nation.

The Korean U-20 national football team is filled with players with unique personalities, who each have their own ways of preparing for the tournament.

“I’ll change my hairstyle right before the start of the World Cup,” Lee, who dyed his hair pink at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, said.

“I’ve prepared my goal ceremony but I haven’t scored a goal yet,” Ha Seung-un said. “I’ll show my goal ceremony at the World Cup.”

In April, the team played friendly matches against Myongji University, Suwon FC and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. The team has three more warm-up matches before the tournament begins - they will face Saudi Arabia on Monday, Uruguay on May 11 and Senegal on May 14 at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium.

The FIFA U-20 World Cup will be held in six different cities - Suwon, Jeonju, Incheon, Cheonan, Daejeon and Jeju - from May 20 to June 11. It is the first time that the U-20 World Cup, considered the gateway to becoming a star football player, is being hosted in Korea.

Korea’s best U-20 World Cup performance was in 1983 in Mexico, when the team made the semi-finals. This year, as host, Korea has been assigned to group A with Guinea, Argentina and England. Korea will kick off its World Cup group stage play against Guinea at Jeonju World Cup Stadium on May 20.

BY KIM JI-HAN [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]
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