Tournament hosts Korea Republic are aiming to evoke memories of 2002, when the senior team reached the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup TM on home soil. Coach Park Kyung-Hoon is certainly confident that his boys will repeat 'the legend of last four'.

Among Park's players to watch is the midfielder Yoon Bitgaram, who orchestrates attack and defence at the centre of the coach's favoured 4-3-3 formation. Yoon led the young Taeguk Warriors to glory in the Toyota International Youth Football Championship in August, collecting the Most Valuable Player award in the process.

Leading the attacking line are Ju Sung-Hwan and Bae Chun-Suk, the 16-year old prospects who are growing fast through the ranks in the youth academies of Chunnam and Pohang respectively. The former scored three goals in Singapore last September and was arguably the best player in the squad.

The two-time Asian champions are planning a series of overseas training camps, to Europe in November and then to South America in January, to prepare for the big task ahead.

Qualification
Korea Republic automatically qualified for the finals as hosts, although they still performed well at the AFC U-17 Championship, reaching the quarter-finals.

Coach
In charge of the national U-17 team since December 2004, Park Kyung-Hoon spent his playing career with Pohang Steelers (1984-92). His spell with the K-League outfit saw him lift the championship trophy three times and he was also voted the division's Most Valuable Player in 1988. He was first called up to the national team at the age of 20 and proved a permanent fixture in the squad until he retired from the international football in 1990. Park has a wealth of experience in the continental competitions, taking part in two AFC Asian Cups (1984 and 1988) and three Asian Games football tournaments (1982, 1986 and 1990), as well as three FIFA World Cup appearances at Italia 90.

The 45-year old started his career in the dugout in 1994 as an assistant-coach at Chunnam Dragons, where he stayed for two years. After that, he moved on to coach Cheonggu High School in Daegu until 2000, before returning to the professional stage to become an assistant-coach with Busan I'Park. He also took the assistant role with the youth side that participated in the Olympic Football Tournament in Athens 2004.

Record

  • Quarter-finalists at Canada 1987
  • Eliminated in the group stage at Finland 2003

Quotation
"Being the hosts, all eyes will be on us and expectations to perform well on home ground will be high. We want to restore our pride in our own backyard by at least reaching the knock-out phase." (Park Kyung-Hoon, coach)