At the K League International Youth Cup Incheon 2023, which will feature 12 teams from six countries, Korean coaches said they would most like to face a Japanese team, not England or Spain.
The Korea Football Association held a media day for the K League International Youth Cup Incheon 2023 on the afternoon of Feb. 2 at the Howard Johnson Hotel in Jung-gu, Incheon.
Three of the five Korean leaders who participated in the event said they would like to see a team affiliated with Japan’s Tokyo Verdi.
Only Choi Jae-young, who manages the K League 1 Incheon United team, chose the English Premier League (EPL) Wolverhampton youth team, where Hwang Hee-chan plays.
Even if Wolverhampton or the Spanish Primera Liga’s Valencia and Real Sociedad youth teams are competing in the tournament, he believes there is “more to gain” from playing Japanese teams.
“I’m looking forward to the match against Tokyo Verdi,” said Suwon Samsung Youth coach Baek Seung-ju. Last week, we played a scrimmage against a team affiliated with Gamba Osaka and were impressed by their unique ‘Japanese style’ of soccer.”
Yoon Hyun-pil, the head coach of FC Seoul Youth, also said, “I think Tokyo Verdi will be interesting. There are a lot of comparisons between Korea and Japan these days, and I would like to compete with them as a challenger because the soccer we play is similar to Japan.”
Hwang Ji-soo, who coaches the Pohang Steelers youth team, said he would like to “check out” the Japanese youth team.
“There is something that Korea is losing to Japan in the youth field these days,” Hwang said, explaining, “As our youth showed in the past, Japan is stronger and rougher these days, and there are some areas where we are losing in terms of physicality, so I want to check those areas more.”
“We used to think that we were better in terms of physicality, but now when we play international matches, Japan is more physical and more combative than us,” he said, adding, “We lost what we were good at before and focused on passing and stable operations, and I think there was a difference at some point, so I want to check it out.”
He added, “I chose it because I wanted to see if I was missing something as a youth team coach.”
Bupyeonggo coach Seo Ki-bok did not name a specific team as an expected opponent, and Jeonbuk Hyundai Youth Team coach Lee Kwang-hyun was unable to attend the first half of the press conference.
The Youth Cup, which will be held from March 3-9 in Incheon, is designed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the K League, improve the competitiveness of K League youth teams and promote international exchange.
The youth teams of FC Seoul, Suwon Samsung, Incheon United, Jeonbuk Hyundai, and Pohang Steelers will compete.
In Europe, youth teams from Wolverhampton (England), Anderlecht (Belgium), Valencia, and Real Sociedad (Spain) will participate, and in Asia, Tokyo Verdi (Japan) and Chonburi FC (Thailand) will compete.
In addition, a total of 12 teams will compete for the trophy, including Bupyeong High School at the invitation of the Incheon Metropolitan Football Association.
The tournament, which is open to players aged 17 and under born on or after January 1, 2006, will be divided into two groups of six teams, Group A (Valencia, Anderlecht, Chonburi, Jeonbuk, Pohang, Incheon) and Group B (Real Sociedad, Wolverhampton, Tokyo Verdi, Suwon, Seoul, Bupyeongo), with five matches per team, followed by a final ranking match between the same ranked teams in each group. 토토