In-form Jeon unfazed by formidable World Cup challenge
Kuala Lumpur: Korea Republic face a daunting task at the upcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 with their group opponents being none other than six-time winners Argentina, as well as Portugal and South Africa. Despite the formidable opponents, though, forward Jeon Se-jin remains unfazed.
Instead, he is relishing the opportunity to rub shoulders with the world's best players. "Many say it is the toughest group," the 19-year-old Suwon Bluewings striker said.
"The fans are seemingly concerned about the group rivals because they are among the world's finest teams. But I am looking forward to it as I am excited to compete against the best teams.
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"I am always looking for this kind of challenge. That is exactly the reason why I push myself to the limit during training. I am confident of myself as well as my team. We represent Asia and we are capable of causing them trouble."
Those following Jeon’s game closely are aware what the youngster is capable of. Jeon finished as his team's top scorer with five goals during last year's AFC U-19 Championship to help his side book passage to Poland 2019.
All the more notable was the fact that Jeon showed improved form competing against stronger opponents. He opened his account in a 1-1 draw against Australia during the group stage, before netting his second in a 3-1 win against Jordan.
Then in the all-important quarter-final clash against Tajikistan he grabbed the match-winning goal which sealed their qualification to Poland 2019. He went on to shine in the semi-final encounter against an impressive Qatar team, firing two quickfire first-half goals as his side downed the pre-tournament favourites 3-1.
"I want to score goals in every match and obviously it would be better if I score in more important games such as semi-finals or final. I wouldn't say that I become a better player when playing against stronger teams, but I try to be more focused and motivated when it comes to deciding moments.
"Some of our overseas-based team-mates couldn't join us in the Asian qualifiers and we felt the responsibility," he continued. "I tried to focus on scoring goals. I wanted to prove myself and to play well with the team. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to score some goals and all the credits should go to my teammates. I couldn't have achieved had it not been for their support."
Throughout their qualifying campaign, Jeon dazzled spectators through his forward forays and goals. He best showcased his predatory talents against Tajikistan when he deftly dribbled the ball before finding space to score from the edge of the penalty area.
Attack-minded that he is, Jeon is quick to acknowledge he is a Neymar fan. He said: “Neymar’s ability to make the crowd go wild is absolutely amazing. His talents, especially his dribbling techniques, are what I admire the most.”
With Poland 2019 drawing near, Jeon is focused on doing his country proud on the world scene. “The U-20 World Cup is such a big tournament and it is a huge honour for me to play in it representing my country. This is a life-time event. I have been preparing for this opportunity for a long time.
“I grew up watching Park Ji-sung playing for Manchester United. He motivated and inspired numerous football players, including me. I want to be a player like him and Son Heung-min. I want to be someone who springs up to the mind first when talking about Korean football. I know it takes a lot of hard work and dedication but I am ready to do whatever it takes to take me there.”
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