- Jeong Sangbin was Korea Republic’s top scorer in Asian U-17 World Cup qualifying
- He scored all his goals as a substitute
- Super-sub aims to help nation repeat success of their U-20 side
While Korea Republic head to the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019 aiming to make a breakthrough, ace-striker Jeong Sangbin harbours goals of his own, namely to continue his role as a super-sub.
Indeed, this was a reputation which Jeong forged during last year's Asian qualifier. Deployed as a substitute forward by coach Kim Jungsoo in all five games, he managed to score three times to finish as the team's top-scorer. Notably, he came off the bench to score the only goal in the all-important quarter-final encounter against India which sealed passage to Brazil 2019.
Boosted by his standout displays in the Asian campaign, Jeong is understandably keen on repeating his heroics as a super-sub on the global stage in Brazil.
"Being a substitute is an important task," the 17-year-old told FIFA.com. "A clever substitute will be able to change the flow of the game. Of course, I always try to my job well no matter whether I am deployed as a starter or a substitute.
"Our head coach [Kim] repeatedly talked to me on the importance of the super-sub role in the Asian qualifying campaign," he added. "Each time I was sent on as a substitute, he gave me proper and clear instructions. I was grateful for the chances given to me and I was glad to have contributed in our qualification with my goals."
A fervent admirer of Kylian Mbappe and Gareth Bale, Jeong has been trying to model himself on his idols. And with exceptional pace and self-belief, the youngster has all the basic tools to become a star like his role-models.
"I like the play of both of them. They have incredible pace and the technique to do something amazing. They are both very aggressive. I want to be a player like them and I would like to move to play in the English Premier League in the future.
"As for my style of play, I am a pacy attacker. I think I am the fastest of my team. I would like to play wide so I can utilise the space to create chances. I am also confident of leading the attacking-line."
Inspired by U-20 success
Korea Republic’s U-20 team stunned even their own supporters when they stormed to this year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup final in Poland, only to lose out to Ukraine. Needless to say, the milestone achievement provides Jeong with timely inspiration.
"I watched all their matches on TV. Our U-20 team pulled off an amazing story. They were very strong as a team. I could feel their good teamwork throughout their campaign. Our U-17 team are also very good in teamwork. I bet we can achieve another success in Brazil."
Even the formidable group opponents of France, Chile and Haiti fail to dent Jeong’s confidence. “All teams in the World Cup are strong and we don’t choose the rivals to play. They have their own strengths and weaknesses just like us. What we should do is to focus on our game and do our best. We believe that hard work betrays no one.
“We will do our best to emulate the history-making feat by our U-20 side. But we will have little pressure because our coach always stresses ‘Just enjoy the game’. I believe that we can achieve great results if we truly enjoy each game.”