With three wins out of three in the group stage, Hwang Sun-hong is full of confidence for the single-legged tournament.
“We won all three games (in the group stage), so I think the mood is very good,” said the striker, 21, who met with reporters before training at the Jinhua Sports School training center in China on Saturday.
South Korea thrashed Kuwait 9-0 in the first game, then thrashed Thailand 4-0 in the second to top the group and advance to the round of 16 early. They followed that up with a 3-0 win over Bahrain in the third game to complete a sweep of the group and a clean sheet.
South Korea will face Group F runner-up Kyrgyzstan on Sunday in the Round of 16. Kyrgyzstan, who competed against North Korea, Indonesia, and Chinese Taipei in Group F, lost to North Korea and Indonesia, but beat Chinese Taipei 4-1 in the third game to finish second in Group F, beating Indonesia on goal difference.
Park came off the bench against Kuwait and scored a goal, then started against Thailand and came off the bench again against Bahrain to help the team win three straight games.
“Personally, I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t score a lot of goals, but this is just the beginning, so I want to play more for the team than for myself,” Park said.
“I think scoring is always the destiny of strikers,” he added, “and if I get a chance, I want to convert it into a good chance, and I want to go higher and make the Korean people happy.”
The tournament was scheduled to feature 23 nations competing in six groups of four, but was reduced to 21 after Syria and Afghanistan, who were in Group C, withdrew ahead of the tournament.
The round of 16 has been finalized through the group stage, and locals are predicting host China, Japan, and Uzbekistan as the teams that will compete with South Korea for the title. North Korea, which is competing in its first international tournament in five years, also emerged as a dark horse after topping Group F.
When asked if the players thought any of the Round of 16 teams would be tricky, Park Jae-yong was confident: “We don’t think about who will be tricky, but we think we can beat them all if we do what we’re doing, so we’re not too worried.” 레모나토토
When asked if he had watched any of the other teams’ group matches, he replied, “I’ve watched most of them on my phone, but there are a lot of stories about Uzbekistan and home team China in the media about ‘who is stronger’. But I don’t pay much attention to it,” he said.