SPORTS

Korean winger in China hoping for nat'l football team call-up

By Alex Park
  • Published : Jul 18, 2017 - 10:49
  • Updated : Jul 18, 2017 - 10:49

South Korean winger Hwang Il-su said Tuesday he believes he can still earn a call-up to the national football team despite his move to a Chinese club.

Hwang joined Chinese Super League outfit Yanbian Funde from South Korean side Jeju United last week. The 29-year-old said even though he is away from home, he will try to catch the eyes of the new national football team head coach Shin Tae-yong for upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

"If I can play regularly in the Chinese league and perform well, I think Shin will pay attention to me and I can earn selection," Hwang said. "I want to help the national team with my own style of play."

In this file photo taken on June 8, 2017, South Korean winger Hwang Il-su talks to reporters before the national football team's training in Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates. (Yonhap)
In the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, South Korea are currently barely holding on to the last automatic qualification spot with just two matches remaining. They are sitting in second place with 13 points, just one point above Uzbekistan in Group A.

In Asia, the top two teams from Groups A and B can advance directly to the World Cup in Russia. The two third-place teams must go through a playoff for their final chance.

Hwang knows he will have to survive the competition within the national team and he wants to help South Korea qualify for their ninth consecutive World Cup.

"I can't talk about other players, but I want to be on the national team and help South Korea reach the World Cup in Russia," he said.

Hwang became the sixth-oldest player to make a national team debut after playing against Iraq in a friendly match last month. He then went on to play against Qatar in a World Cup qualifier. South Korea failed to collect a win in both matches, but Hwang was one of the more impressive players.

A similar scenario was awaiting Hwang in his Chinese league debut. On Saturday, Hwang played full-time against Shanghai SIPG and scored a goal, but couldn't prevent his club's 3-1 defeat.

"I was happy to score a debut goal against a strong team like Shanghai in front of home fans, but it was sad that we couldn't win," he said.

Nicknamed "Hwang Bolt" for his speed and quickness that bring to mind Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, the former Daegu FC man has been known for his defense-busting penetrations. Hwang said Yanbian's South Korean coach Park Tae-ha orders him to maximize his forte on the pitch.

"Coach (Park) said I need to create scoring chances with my dribbling skills and sprint into the open space when our team possesses the ball," he said.

Hwang, who went pro in 2010, has never played overseas until now. He said financial conditions were also one of the reasons why he decided to leave South Korea.

"It'd be a lie to say that I haven't thought about contract terms," he said. "I'm not young, so I also had to consider financial merits."

Hwang said he can become a better player in China because there are many top-class attackers in the league.

"Chinese teams are competitive as they now advance to the Asian Football Confederation Champions League," he said. "I also want to challenge world-class attackers." (Yonhap)