S. Korean striker vows to give more effort than at Asian Games to score goals for senior side

September 10, 2018

SUWON, South Korea, Sept. 10 (Yonhap) — South Korean striker Hwang Ui-jo said Monday he will work harder for the senior national football team than he did at the Asian Games.

Hwang was one of the three overage players for South Korea’s under-23 side that won gold medal at the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia. He showed superb goal-poaching skills at the Asian Games and scored nine goals in seven matches.

But with Paulo Bento’s senior side, Hwang said he needs to be more focused on the pitch.

“I need to have confidence and since I came here with good energy, I need to maintain that,” Hwang said at a press conference at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, south of Seoul. “If you’re a striker, you need to score goals. I need to work harder, and I should stay focused better than I did at the Asian Games.”

South Korean football striker Hwang Ui-jo speaks at a press conference at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, south of Seoul, on Sept. 10, 2018, one day ahead of a friendly football match between South Korea and Chile. (Yonhap)

South Korean football striker Hwang Ui-jo speaks at a press conference at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, south of Seoul, on Sept. 10, 2018, one day ahead of a friendly football match between South Korea and Chile. (Yonhap)

Hwang, who is playing with Gamba Osaka in Japan, is one of the 24 players selected by head coach Paulo Bento for friendly matches with Costa Rica and Chile. He played roughly 25 minutes as a second-half substitute in South Korea’s 2-0 win over Costa Rica on Friday but failed to score.

South Korea will face Chile in Suwon on Tuesday, and Hwang said he is ready to score goals when he is given the opportunity on the pitch.

“I always have the desire to score goals,” he said. “But I’ll first focus on our teamwork. If I get the chance, I will concentrate and try to score goals.”

The last time Hwang scored for the senior national team was in October 2015, when South Korea faced Jamaica in a friendly — his only goal for South Korea in 12 appearances.

“At the Asian Games, we tried to focus on getting good results, not really thinking of the process,” he said. “But here, we have some time and it’s different from the Asian Games preparation.”

For the striker position, Hwang is competing with FC Augsburg forward Ji Dong-won, who started against Costa Rica. Hwang said under Bento, strikers are being ordered to make more runs and create chances for their teammates.

“I need to understand the coach’s orders as fully as possible,” he said. “We have to create chances not only in the center, but also on the wings. And when we get the chance, we have to score.”

At the Asian Games, Hwang received a lot of help from Son Heung-min, who played behind him as an attacking midfielder. In the match against Costa Rica, the Tottenham Hotspur star played as a left winger and supported his teammates.

“We know each other’s style of play,” he said. “If I play, I’ll help Son and Son will help me. We’ll both try to play a good game.”

Chile, ranked 12th in the latest FIFA rankings, are considered stronger opponents than Costa Rica. Hwang said all players are determined to collect a second straight win with Bento.

“National team matches are important to the players,” he said. “We’ll prepare harder than what we did for the Costa Rica match. We’ll get a good result if we analyze our opponents well.”

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