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S. Korean striker vows to show finisher’s instinct vs. Colombia

South Korean striker Hwang Ui-jo said Sunday he is ready to show a finisher’s instinct when his side take on Colombia in an upcoming friendly match.

South Korea will host Colombia at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul on Tuesday. The two sides are meeting for the first time since November 2017.

The Taeguk Warriors are coming off a 1-0 win over Bolivia on Friday. Hwang didn’t score a goal, but he contributed to the national football team’s first home win of 2019 by playing about 30 minutes as a second-half substitute.

Against Bolivia, South Korea racked up 21 shots, but were able to score only one goal, a header from Lee Chung-yong in the 85th.

Hwang Ui-jo (Yonhap)
Hwang Ui-jo (Yonhap)

Hwang, who has five goals since head coach Paulo Bento took the national team helm, said he is determined to improve South Korea’s goal scoring ability.

“If we can finish calmly with better concentration when we create chances, I’m sure there will be goals,” Hwang said to reporters after training at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul. “I don’t want to rush. I will think carefully.”

Hwang, who is with Japanese club Gamba Osaka, is likely to partner with Son Heung-min against Colombia in South Korea’s two-striker system, since his rival Ji Dong-won, who started against Bolivia, missed the Sunday’s training after feeling pain in his left knee.

Hwang, the 2018 Korea Football Association (KFA) Player of the Year, is familiar playing alongside Son. The two were pivotal in South Korea’s gold medal run at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.

“Son is a top-class player, so I believe that he’ll do his job in any position,” he said. “If I play together with Son upfront, I’ll make sure we can create good attacking chances.”

Asked about his battle with Ji to win a starting striker spot, Hwang said he expects a good competition.

“We know each other’s strengths well,” he said. “I’m learning many things from Ji.”

Hwang, who has six goals in 24 caps, will have to face Colombia’s star defenders like Davinson Sanchez and Yerry Mina.

Instead of being afraid, the 26-year-old said it will be a good opportunity for him to be a better player.

“Colombia have so many good players, so it’s going to be a good experience for me to grow,” he said. “Since we’re playing at home, I’ll do my best help for my team’s victory.” (Yonhap)