Tag Archives: Han Kwang-song

World Cup legend inspires Young Chollima

For any country, a significant FIFA World Cup™ victory is a lasting legacy from which future generations can take heart. In the case of Korea DPR, their milestone last-eight finish at England 1966 remains a landmark worth celebrating even to this day. During that campaign, Pak Doo Ik scored the only goal against Italy as the Chollima stormed into the quarter-finals in unexpected fashion and 48 years on, the Korea DPR legend was singled out as an inspirational figure by Han Kwang-Song, a promising forward who helped steer his side to victory at the 2014 AFC U-16 Championship in September.

“Mr Pak is my idol,” the youngster told FIFA.com. “He was among the best performers representing our country in the 1966 World Cup. Just as every football player of our team, I am very proud of the past achievement. I really want to emulate that feat by joining our senior national team in the near future and helping our side to the World Cup.”

Sources of inspiration
Pak isn’t, however, the only iconic player from whom Han draws inspiration. Former Brazilian star Ronaldo, as the youngster admits, is his second favourite player. And it is little surprise considering the way he played during the Asian youth campaign. While the entire Korea DPR side impressed through their team-work and spirit, it was Han who stood out for his pace, skills and sharp nose for goals.

The 16-year-old opened his account with a spot-kick in the opening 3-0 rout of Kuwait, and was again on target despite being edged 3-2 by Uzbekistan. He went on to seal their 4-1 triumph against hosts Nepal as they progressed to the knockout stage, before rounding off his campaign with a spectacular strike in the 2-1 final victory against Korea Republic. The four goals saw him finish as the tournament’s second best scorer just a goal shy of Korea Republic’s Lee Seungwoo.

And it was his last goal that best showcased his qualities as a striking prodigy. Korea Republic took the lead through Choi Jaeyoung’s header before the break but Han drew level shortly after the restart. The rival defenders missed a long ball into the area and a lurking Han deftly brought down the ball with one touch before coolly firing home to equalise.

“That goal from the final is the most memorable for me during the campaign,” Han recalled. “I have given priority to dribbling during training so I am always hoping to contribute to the team’s victory through my skillful, active play.

“In every match, I play with my soul,” continued Han, who started playing football as an eight-year-old before being recruited into the national youth team. “Although we lost to Uzbekistan during the group phase, my team-mates and I remained confident of qualifying for the next stage.”

Aiming for new milestones
Coach Yon Kwang-Mu, meanwhile, paid tribute to the team’s organisation and never-say-die spirit as they went through a series of stiff tests en route to a second Asian crown. In fact, the Young Chollima were held to stalemates after 120 minutes by first Iran and then Australia during the knockout stage, only to progress through tense penalty shoot-out victories to set up the final meeting with their peninsula neighbours.

“Our boys gave it all during the competition,” remarked the former national team player. “They always maintained their concentration, played with full confidence and demonstrated the winning mentality as they won one game after another. The self-belief and willpower should be our major strengths in addition to our teamwork.”

Yon has now set his sights on springing a surprise in next year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile. Korea DPR twice progressed to the second round in the global showpiece in 2005 and 2007, and Yon is aiming to break new ground this time around.

“Our goal is to advance to the top four in Chile next year,” he revealed. “(To prepare for the competition) the majority of these players will be sent to Italy this year, where they can learn and improve. It is important for their development.”

With the team targeting an unprecedented result, striking-ace Han has set a fresh objective for himself hoping to transform his brilliant continental form to the global stage. “My goal is simple,” he concluded. “It is to score more than four goals in the World Cup.”

Han Kwang-Song e Choe Song-Hyok : Corea del Nord -1998

da Generazione di Talenti

Furono smistati tra Spagna e Italia, 11 alla catalana Fundación Marcet e 20 alla perugina Italian Soccer Management. Un evento unico, un’apertura di credito nei confronti del calcio europeo mai successo prima. 31 giovanissimi talenti nordcoreani in Europa grazie all’interessata intercessione del governo di Pyongyang, già protagonista dello sviluppo calcistico con la recente fondazione della Scuola Internazionale di Calcio nella capitale nordcoreana. E, dopo poco meno di un anno, possiamo già dire che questa politica ha dato i suoi primi preziosi frutti. A decidere la finalissima dell’AFC U16 Championship sono stati proprio due allievi della Fundación: Han Kwang-Song e Choe Song-Hyok. Una finale sentitissima ed importantissima, visto che a rivaleggiare i nordcoreani per la vittoria del trofeo continentale erano i “cugini” del Sud, un derby. Ed è stato un derby anche interno alla Catalogna, visto che la stellina del Sud è il barcelonista Lee Seung-Woo (MVP e capocannoniere del torneo), già considerato il “nuovo Messi”, mentre La Fundación Marcet è invece in orbita Espanyol.
La finalissima, finita in rimonta 2-1 per il nord, con reti di Han e Choe.
Ma andiamo a scoprirli meglio, i due nuovi fenomeni di Pyongyang.
Han Kwang-Song è un attaccante centrale, il più classico dei numeri 9: tecnica, fisicità, velocità, dribbling e capacità di vedere la porta. Classe 1998 è stato selezionato per studiare ed imparare calcio alla Scuola Internazionale di Pyongyang. Intervistato dal giornale “Voce della Corea”, nel marzo 2013 dichiarò: “a tutti i costi voglio diventare un calciatore famoso nel paese”. Già nel 2010 guidò, ad appena 12 anni, la nazionale under-15 alla vittoria della Coppa EstAsiatica EAFF Under15. Arrivato in Spagna ha avuto l’opportunità di giocare con molta continuità nella formazione del Centro Europeo de Tecnofútbol, la squadra di riferimento della Fundación: 8 gol in 9 partite con la formazione Cadetti e 12 partite e 3 reti con la prima squadra, che milita nella Primera División Catalana, la divisione dilettantistica di riferimento della Regione Catalana. Poco più che una divisione amatoriale, ma nella quale si formano i talenti che poi esplodono nelle cantera di Barcelona ed Espanyol. E stiamo parlando di un ragazzo di neanche 16 anni. Poi, due reti nelle qualificazioni per l’AFC U16 e quattro reti nella fase finale.
4 i gol anche per Choe Song-Hyok, uno più bello dell’altro: dribbling e bomba sotto l’incrocio contro il Kuwait, palla rubata, dribbling lungo la linea di fondo e tiro a fil di palo (oltre ad uno di testa) contro il Nepal, tiro potente e preciso sotto il sette in finale contro la Sud Corea. Choe è una punta di movimento, dotato di gran dribbling e velocità. Con Han si completano a perfezione. Nei Cadetti del Tecnofútbol 20 presenze e 6 reti.
Sono in totale 6 i titolari della nazionale nordcoreana che fanno parte della nidiata inviata in Europa: oltre ad Han e a Choi, anche Jong Chang-Bom, centrocampista di fantasia (8 gol nell’AFC U16, tra qualificazioni e fase finale), era in Catalogna (20 presenze ed 8 gol nei Cadetti del Tecnofútbol), mentre i difensori Kim Ye-Bon, Kim Wi-Song e Choe Jin-Nam si allenavano in Italia.

a cura di Marco Bagozzi

DPR Korea win AFC U-16 Championship

Bangkok: Han Kwang-song and Choe Song-hyok scored in the second half as DPR Korea claimed a record-equalling second AFC U-16 Championship title after completing a 2-1 comeback victory over Korea Republic in Saturday’s final at Rajamangala Stadium.

Choi Jae-young’s 34th minute header had given Korea Republic the lead as Choi Jin-cheul’s side sought to claim a record third AFC U-16 Championship title having advanced to the final with a 100% record.

But after Han equalised for 2010 champions DPR Korea five minutes after half-time, Choe struck with 23 minutes remaining as Yon Kwang-mu’s side joined Korea Republic, Japan, China, Saudi Arabia and Oman as two-time winners of the tournament.

Roared on by the biggest crowd of the tournament, both sides started the contest at a frantic pace, although Korea Republic’s Ahn Joon-soo was the busier of the two goalkeepers during the opening exchanges as the custodian made a regulation save from Kim Ye-bom’s speculative long range effort after eight minutes before watching as Han blazed into the side netting.

Ahn was beaten seven minutes later but Jong Chang-bom had strayed narrowly offside before racing onto Kim Wi-song’s through ball, while opposite number Ri Chol-song was soon called into action to make a smart save low to his right from Lee Seung-woo’s drive from the edge of the penalty area.

And Ri again blocked from Lee 15 minutes before half-time as the diminutive Barcelona striker rode a challenge before evading another DPR Korea defender and firing goalwards from just outside the area.

With the end-to-end nature of the contest continuing, Korea Republic goalkeeper Ahn then had to deal with a rising strike from Han which the custodian unconvincingly punched to safety.

But despite DPR Korea looking the most likely to break the deadlock, Korea Republic opened the scoring 11 minutes before half-time as Choi Jae-young’s glancing header from Lee Sang-heon’s right-wing corner looped over Ri.

DPR Korea, though, were level five minutes after the restart as Park Yong-gwan’s long angled ball into the area was missed by the Korea Republic defence and Han expertly took one touch to bring the ball down before coolly beating Ahn from the edge of the six yard area.

And Han almost turned provider seven minutes later as Yon Jun-hyok could only direct the strikers pull back just wide of the upright with Ahn scrambling across his goal.

But DPR Korea did claim the lead seven minutes after the hour mark courtesy of another Korea Republic defensive mistake as a through ball was allowed to find Choe, and the striker rifled his shot across Ahn and into the top corner from inside the area.

With time running out Korea Republic quickly pressed for an equaliser and Ri had to be on his toes to block at close range from You Juan with 11 minutes remaining.

But despite Korea Republic continuing to press in the closing stages, they were unable to find a way past a well-organised and disciplined DPR Korea defence and suffered a first defeat of the campaign.