‘Son Heung-min, Lee Kang-in, Hwang Hee-chan, Kim Min-jae… Korean soccer is already world-class,’ rave the managers of foreign teams participating in the K League International Youth Cup

“The quality of Korean soccer is already well known.”

먹튀검증Youth team managers from top European clubs traveling to South Korea to compete in the K League International Youth Cup Incheon 2023 have expressed their excitement for the tournament and praise for the high standard of Korean soccer. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the K League, the Korea Professional Football Association organized the K League International Youth Cup, an international tournament for players aged 17 and under, to promote international exchanges to improve the international competitiveness of K League youth teams.

The tournament will feature 12 teams representing the K League Youth Division, including FC Seoul, Suwon Samsung, Jeonbuk Hyundai, Pohang Steelers, Incheon United, and Bupyeonggo, along with six domestic teams (the first through fourth place finishers of the K League Youth Club of the Year and two teams from the host region), four European teams (Real Sociedad, Valencia FC-Spain, RSC Anderlecht-Belgium, and Wolverhampton-England), and two Asian teams (Tokyo Verdi and Thailand’s Chonburi FC).

A day before the start of the tournament, a media day was held for the managers of the participating teams at the Howard Johnson Incheon Airport Hotel Mega Star Ballroom in Incheon. The first part of the media day was held for the managers of the K League’s youth teams, followed by a separate media day for the managers of overseas teams. The managers of four overseas teams (Real Sociedad, Valencia FC, Wolverhampton, and Thailand’s Chonburi) participated, except for Tokyo Verdi and RSC Anderlecht (Belgium), who arrived late at night due to club commitments. In addition, Kozaburo Shigeno, manager of the development team at the Japan J-League Secretariat, attended the media day on behalf of Tokyo Verdi.

“We have very high expectations for this tournament. We are excited to participate and have made a lot of preparations,” he said, adding, “We hope to interact with other teams and use this as an opportunity to improve ourselves.”

Valencia head coach Sergio Rosano Gomes. Photo courtesy of the KFA
The foreign managers were particularly impressed with the level of Korean soccer. Sergio Rosano Gomes, head coach of Valencia, said, “It is a fact that the level of Korean soccer is very high. Through the World Cup, the level of Korean soccer has become a global standard. They are very creative and fast. I think it’s the best in Asia.” “We also have players like Son Heung-min, Lee Kang-in and Kim Min-jae who are doing well in European leagues. Especially Lee Kang-in, who was in our team and then went to another team, but I think very highly of him, and I love him personally. I’m always rooting for him.”

“I saw Park Ji-Sung and Seol Ki-Hyun at the 2002 World Cup, and Seol played for us from 2004 to 2006,” said Wolverhampton youth coach Richard Walker. The level of Korean soccer is world class. Hwang Hee-chan is also playing now. I think they’ve improved overall, and I’m very impressed with the hospitality and infrastructure of the K League through this tournament, and I think they’re trying to grow even more.”

Currently, Wolverhampton’s youth team includes Korean-British player Jimin Gyu. “He’s an exciting, creative striker with a lot of skill, so I’m looking forward to working with him,” Walker said.

Wolverhampton head coach Richard Walker. Photo credit=Korean Football Association
Real Sociedad head coach Asier Eisagirre added: “Korean players keep coming to Europe, and that shows the quality of Korean soccer. At the national level, how the team performs at the World Cup is the benchmark, but individual players playing in Europe also shows the level of Korean soccer. We had Lee Ik-Soo play for us a long time ago. Korean players who play in Europe are highly skilled and can throw defenses off balance.”

Num Ratchakit, general manager of Chonburi FC in Thailand, expressed his admiration for the K League. “For Thailand, the K League is the best in Asia. Thai players dream of joining the K League. I think we can compete with European leagues in the future.” “The J-League has been following the K-League and competing with each other for more than 10 years,” said Kozaburo, who represents the J-League. We are inspired by the strength and mentality of Korean soccer and reflect it in the development of the J League. As Asian rivals, we compete with each other to raise our level.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *