Free-scoring Kim shapes as key figure in Korea DPR’s treble chase

  • Kim Kyong-Yong was top-scorer in Asian qualifying for Uruguay 2018

  • Korea DPR forward aims to retain the U-17 Women’s World Cup title

  • Follows a long list of breakout stars for Korea DPR at youth level

It seems that an attacking prodigy announces her arrival on the global scene each time Korea DPR win the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup title.

Jon Myong-Hwa was the first to make a significant impression at world level, with her four-goal haul helping Korea DPR to the title in the inaugural edition a decade ago in New Zealand 2008. Then came the jet-heeled Sung Hyang-Sim, who devastated rival defences through her pacy attacking as her side triumphed at Jordan 2016. Now, it is Kim Kyong-Yong who is looking to take up the talismanic role as the team target a record World Cup treble in Uruguay later this year.

And few would question the ability of the teenage striker who has recently emerged as one of Asia's hottest prospects. Indeed, as a 15-year-old, Kim won both the tournament top-scorer and Most Valued Player as her side prevailed in last year's AFC U-16 Women's Championship to book progression to Uruguay 2018.

With nine goals from six matches, Kim stood out as her side claimed their third continental title. Even more notable was the variety of her goals which ranged from powerful headers to technical half-volleys, as well as beating the defence with speed. In a sense, the Korea DPR youngster possesses nearly all the elements required to be a modern all-round striker.

"Actually my personal goal for the tournament was to win the tournament MVP," she said in reference to the qualifiers. "But I never expected to be the top goalscorer. This individual result should be attributed to the entire team, because they all played well and provided the assists for me throughout the competition."

Triumphant campaign Kim started playing football at the age of ten but despite being a relatively late starter, she made remarkably fast progress to earn national U-15 team selection. Kim exploded onto the scene in her first international competition - the 2017 EAFF U-15 Girls' Tournament where she finished as the tournament top-scorer with five goals.

Hot off her prolific form in the regional competition, Kim then thrived on the Asian stage five months later. She was on target five times as Korea DPR routed Bangladesh 9-0 in the opener, before striking twice in the 7-0 demolition of Australia which sealed their place in the last eight. Her eighth goal came against Japan in what was the only game the team lost in this competition. But she rounded off her campaign in style by sealing their 2-0 victory against Korea Republic in the final.

Korea DPR captain Ri Su-Gyong was quick to pay tribute to her free-scoring team-mate following their title-winning campaign. "She [Kim] is the best. She is a very good player and I have a lot of respect for her."

For Kim, though, winning the Asian crown was just a starting point. As the 2018 U-17 Women's World Cup draws near, Kim has naturally switched her sights to retaining the world title. "We are the champions of Asia, but I’m not satisfied yet. We need more training and preparation and I think we can win the World Cup."