What the soccer world has to say about the U-20 finalists…”It’s great, but if you want to play for your country, you have to have the ability and the system.”

“The members who reached the final four at the U-20 World Cup for the second consecutive time should play for their clubs.”먹튀검증

Chung Mong-kyu (61), president of the Korea Football Association, delivered a short and bold message before the opening of the ‘2023 Footballers’ Golf Tournament’ at Oak Hills CC in Wonju, Gangwon Province, on the 13th. He wished the national team’s players, who recently finished in the top four at the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina, well. His message resonated even more loudly as many of them are not getting the chance to play for their national teams despite their performances on the world stage.

“The members of the team that finished runners-up at the U-20 World Cup four years ago are now playing professionally. However, the federation wants these players to grow to the point where they are not just semi-professional resources, but also to be able to establish themselves in the A team.” “To establish yourself in the A team, you need to be the best among the 10-year olds, not just the best in your age group. The U-20 national team players are just entering their contractual age, so it’s a good time to increase their product value, but they tend to be underutilized by their clubs.”

Currently, the K League has a mandatory U-22 policy that has been implemented to develop and recruit promising players. After several revisions, the policy now requires at least one U-22 player to be a starter and one to be a reserve, and at least two players must be on the field to replace five players. However, teams that don’t have first-team U-22 talent are often forced to play younger players for only 10-20 minutes. It’s also true that 21- to 22-year-olds get more opportunities than 19- to 20-year-olds who are just starting out in the pros.

“I understand that you can’t just play young players on the field,” says Chung, “but even at Busan I-Park, where I am the owner, I always say that we should play a lot of promising players. They have to perform, but you can also give a young player a chance in a match against a stronger opponent or in a match that is already close.”

The opinions of the coaches we spoke to at the tournament differed. The majority of the coaches said that they would be willing to play younger players if they have the skills to play for the national team, just like the stars who rose to prominence at a young age.

Photo courtesy of the Korea Football Association

Lee Min-sung, 50, head coach of the Daejeon Hana Citizens, said, “A high school rookie may not be able to keep up with the tempo of the professional stage in the first year. But if they’re good, they’ll improve after six months, and in some cases, they’ll show significant growth in their second year.” “Age doesn’t matter if the team needs the player’s characteristics and strengths. (Bae) Jun-ho is also a player we need,” he wrote.

Pohang coach Kim Ki-dong (52) also said, “In the past, competitive players such as Lee Dong-guk grew up well without the U-22 system.” “For a team that needs to develop and use players like us, it may be good to actively use promising players, but there is no absolute.” Busan coach Park Jin-seop (46) also commented, “We have the U-22 program anyway, so we are performing in the age-group national team.”

There were also calls for changes to the current system, both big and small. Jeong Jeong-yong (54), who led the U-20 national team to runner-up status four years ago, said, “The achievement of this tournament is bigger than four years ago. However, the players who played in this tournament should play more for their clubs.” “The current U-22 system is the best, and I should check the competitiveness of Lee Young-joon (20) and Kim Jun-hong (20). The best thing to do is to activate subdivided age-based leagues like overseas, or utilize the K4 league like some clubs do with their B teams, so that younger resources can play. It’s all about investment and mindset.”

Ha Seok-ju, vice president of the Korea Football Association (57-Aju University), said, “It’s good that prospects are becoming more and more competitive, but the U-22 system is causing players to drop out in their second or third year of university. In the fourth year, many players want to give up soccer to get a degree, so the system needs to be improved.”

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