“I was disappointed to be runner-up at the Asian Cup, but I learned a lot. My dream is to be like Kim Ji Soo.”
The South Korea U-17 football team, led by Byun Sung-hwan, lost 0-3 to Japan in the final of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-17 Asian Cup 2023 at Pathum Thani Stadium in Thailand. South Korea failed to win the tournament for the first time in 21 years since 2002.
Before the final, there were high hopes of winning the title. Byun Sung-hwan had a tremendous performance throughout the tournament. His strong pressing and accurate passing was a sight to behold. Despite his young age, he was praised for his skills.
There were many standouts, including Kim Myung-joon and Yoon Do-young, who scored four goals apiece, Baek In-woo, who added energy to the second line and scored the winning goal against Uzbekistan, Lim Hyun-seop, who was a big help in the midfield, Jin Tae-ho and Yang Min-hyuk, who showed off their attacking talents, and Hong Seong-min, who was solid in goal.
There was also Yoo Min-joon. Yoo is a 2006-born center back who is 17 years old and plays for the Seongnam FC U-18 team. He has been with the club since the U-15 team. He has been with Seongnam U-18 coach Kim Geun-cheol since U-15, and under Kim’s tutelage, Yoo has had a golden season, reaching the quarterfinals of the Baekwoongi High School Soccer Tournament in February and finishing third, as well as finishing runner-up in the Gyeonggi Governor’s High School Selection Tournament and reaching the quarterfinals of the National High School Soccer Tournament this season.
Yoo caught the eye of head coach Byun Sung-hwan, and despite his frequent tournaments and league schedule, he never missed a training session with the U-17 national team. He eventually made the final roster and traveled to Thailand. In between starts and substitutions, Yoo was a key part of Byun’s defense. In the final, which was marred by refereeing controversy, he rushed in to play after Ko Jong-hyun was sent off. Although the team lost the match and finished as runners-up, they made a name for themselves in the public eye and raised expectations for the upcoming U-17 World Cup. 메이저놀이터
Yoo’s role model is Kim Ji-soo, who went on to play for Brentford in the English Premier League (EPL). Kim came through the Seongnam youth system as a big player, signing a semi-professional contract at a young age and playing for the first team, seizing the opportunity and impressing to become one of the top youngsters in the K League. He then moved to Brentford and made waves in the soccer world. “I was with (Kim) Ji-hyung at the U15/18 level,” says Yoo. I saw him lead well, use both feet, and handle the ball well, and I wanted to imitate him because he was the same age and performed well in a professional team and was not nervous.” “He is a role model, but it is a goal I want to surpass,” he said.
After returning home from Thailand, Yoo Min-joon took to the field with his U-18 teammates in a 0-0 draw between Seongnam and Gimpo FC. During a brief chat with Interfootball at halftime, he shared his thoughts on the tournament and his future goals.