“I think it’s a great opportunity to develop.”
토토사이트The K League International Youth Cup Incheon 2023, which will be held in and around Incheon to mark the 40th anniversary of the founding of the K League, kicked off with a media day. The tournament is an under-17 international competition featuring six Korean teams, four European teams, and two Asian teams. The Korean teams will include the first through fourth place finishers of the Korean Youth Club of the Year and two clubs from the host city. Domestic coaches, who do not have many opportunities to play against foreign teams, are especially looking forward to the opportunity for their players to learn and grow.
The KFA held an official press conference on the 2nd at the Howard Johnson Incheon Airport Hotel in Jung-gu, Incheon. The press conference was divided into two parts, with domestic and foreign team managers participating in each part. For transportation reasons, the first part of the press conference was attended by the managers of FC Seoul, Suwon Samsung, Pohang Steelers, Incheon United, and Bupyeonggo, while the second part was attended by the managers of Jeonbuk Hyundai, Real Sociedad and Valencia (Spain), Wolverhampton (England), and Chonburi FC (Thailand). Tokyo Verdi (Japan) and Anderlecht (Belgium) were represented by J-League officials or did not participate in the press conference due to team circumstances.
In the first part of the press conference, the domestic managers expressed their expectations that the tournament will be an opportunity for players to grow and develop rather than a goal of winning a championship. Seo Ki-bok Bupyeonggo, the head coach of the only academy soccer team participating in the tournament and the longest serving coach among the managers (since 2013), said, “We will take each game with a learning attitude. It’s a tournament we haven’t experienced before. It will be a great experience. I want to see the players grow by competing against professional and world-class teams. In training and meetings, I told the players, ‘This will be a great opportunity to improve a little more,'” he said.
Choi Jae-young, head coach of the Incheon U-18 team. Photo: KFA
Choi Jae-young, head coach of the Incheon U-18s, said, “I want to see them grow and develop personally while playing against teams representing the K League, traditional powerhouses (Bupyeong Go), and overseas teams. I’m personally excited and looking forward to it. I hope we can finish the game without any injuries, and I hope the players can grow as we increase our international competitiveness. We usually play possession soccer with build-ups from the back, but in this tournament, we will try to play a tactic similar to professional teams.”
Suwon U-18 head coach Baek Seung-ju said, “It’s an honor to represent my country at the tournament. More than anything else, I think it will be an opportunity for the players to experience other countries’ styles and develop by playing against teams from other countries.” He added, “I think it will make the players feel their own inadequacies. It’s important how they try and grow within their shortcomings. I think that will be the foundation for them to grow into good players.”
Yoon Hyun-pil, head coach of the Seoul U-18 team, also said, “I’m grateful that we were able to experience not only domestic teams but also good teams overseas. I hope we can incorporate their style and learn from them. I think the kids learned a lot from the experience of playing with overseas players. I don’t have to tell them, they will find their own motivation. There are a lot of good teams, so we will prepare for counter-attacks and fast soccer.”
Yoon Hyun-pil, head coach of Seoul U-18. Photo: KFA
Pohang head coach Hwang Ji-soo said, “I appreciate the opportunity to see how competitive our team is in the world. The younger players don’t have the opportunity to play. I think we can learn something from playing together. We have different styles, and I think the most important thing is to feel it through physical contact.”
Jeonbuk coach Lee Kwang-hyun, who was unable to attend the second leg due to transportation issues, said, “There are not many opportunities for young youth players to play against overseas teams like this tournament. I am grateful for this opportunity. I think it will be a chance for us to grow and develop to the next level through this opportunity.”
Tokyo Verdi from Japan was the most popular choice for the opponent they would like to face in the tournament. Suwon head coach Baek Seung-ju said, “I am most looking forward to our first game against Tokyo Verdi. We played a practice match against Gamba Osaka U-18 last week. I was impressed by their unique Japanese style of soccer. I’m looking forward to seeing how the players respond.” Seoul head coach Yoon Hyun-pil added: “We are in the same region of Asia, and Korea and Japan are compared a lot. There is a tendency for our pursuits to mesh. We want to compete properly.”
Hwang Ji-soo, head coach of Pohang U-18. Photo: KFA
Pohang head coach Hwang Ji-soo was more specific. “Nowadays, we tend to lose to Japan from the youth stage. In the past, we thought we were more advanced in terms of physicality, but now the Japanese players are more physical and combative. I think they are also more combative. I would like to see it in this match.”
Incheon head coach Choi Jae-young was looking forward to the clash with Wolverhampton. “I’m most looking forward to facing Wolverhampton because they have Hwang Hee-chan playing and they are in the English Premier League (EPL),” Choi explained. “I’m not looking forward to any particular overseas team,” said Seo Ki-bok, the assistant coach.
In terms of promises to win, all five managers have promised to take a ‘break’. As all the teams have been on a ‘strong streak’ recently, they promised to give their players enough rest, which is the most important thing. In particular, Yoon Hyun-pil said, “We haven’t had more than three or four days off since winter training. If we finish the tournament with a good experience, even if it’s not necessarily a result, we’ll give the players a break.” Suwon head coach Baek Seung-ju went even further than the previous four coaches, saying, “I’ll take a break and go out to dinner.”
Suwon U-18 head coach Baek Seung-ju. Photo: KFA
The tournament, which is open to players born on or after January 1, 2006, is organized by the KFA and hosted by the KFA and the Incheon Metropolitan Football Association. The six teams will be divided into two groups and play a group stage starting on the third day, followed by a tournament with a final match between the first-place teams and the same ranked teams in each group. The tournament will be held at three venues in Incheon, including the Incheon Munhak Stadium Auxiliary Stadium, the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium Auxiliary Stadium, and the Southeast Asia Drugby Stadium, until the 9th, including the group stage and the third- and fourth-place matches. Only the final will be held at the Incheon Football Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 9.
The tournament was organized to improve the international competitiveness of youth in the K League. Just as European players of the same age gain a wealth of international experience by playing in the UEFA Youth Champions League, the idea is to allow K League players to gain a variety of overseas experiences. The KFA plans to expand and continue to run the tournament in the future to continue to increase the number of contact points between the K League Youth and advanced overseas leagues. The expectation is that not only the players but also the front office and coaching staff will form an international exchange network and naturally lead to securing international competitiveness.
K-League International Youth Cup Incheon 2023 Group Organization
- Group A: Incheon United, Pohang Steelers, Jeonbuk Hyundai, Chonburi FC (Thailand), Anderlecht (Belgium), Valencia (Spain)
- Group B : Incheon Bupyeonggo, FC Seoul, Suwon Samsung, Tokyo Verdi (Japan) Wolverhampton (England) Real Sociedad (Spain)