Korea U-20 team coach honored at AFC awards

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Korea U-20 team coach honored at AFC awards


Chung Jung-yong, right, and Lee Kang-in pose for photos after returning from the FIFA U-20 World Cup in June. [YONHAP]

Heroes of Korea’s 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup runner-up team were feted at the annual Asian football awards ceremony on Monday.

Chung Jung-yong, former head coach of the U-20 national team, was named the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Coach of the Year at the AFC Awards in Hong Kong for guiding the upstart Korea to the final at the world’s premier youth tournament in June.

Korea fell to Ukraine 3-1 in the final in Poland, but it was still the country’s highest finish at a FIFA international tournament at any level, men’s or women’s.

Chung beat out two Japanese club coaches, Tsuyoshi Otsuki of Urawa Red Diamonds and Go Oiwa of Kashima Antlers, to become the first Korean to win this award since former Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors boss Choi Kang-hee in 2016.

Chung, who’d been coaching youth football since 2006, took over a second-division pro club, Seoul E-Land, on Saturday.

Also in Hong Kong, Lee Kang-in, who earned the Golden Ball as the best player of the U-20 World Cup, won the AFC Youth Player of the Year award on Monday.

Lee had two goals and four assists in seven matches, showing off dazzling dribbling and passing skills despite being one of the youngest players at the tournament at 18.

Lee edged out Hiroki Abe of Japan and Doan Van Hau of Vietnam for his first AFC award.

Son Heung-min, Korean men’s national team captain and attacking ace for Tottenham Hotspur, was named the AFC International Player of the Year. This category was added to the AFC Awards in 2012, and Son has now claimed it three times, with his previous wins coming in 2015 and 2017.

Son finished the 2018-2019 season with 20 goals in 48 matches and helped the Spurs reach the final at the UEFA Champions League for the first time in May. Then in November, early in the 2019-2020 season, Son became Korea’s leading scorer of all-time in European club football, surpassing Cha Bum-kun’s mark of 121. Son has 125 goals and counting.

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