One of Hwang Sun-hong’s big questions as he prepares for the Hangzhou Asian Games in September is who will play up front. Several players, including Oh Hyun-kyu (Celtic) and Lee In-jong-kyu (Ulsan), have been shortlisted, but no one has been named.
While the lack of a goalie is a concern, the recent emergence of Cho Young-wook (Gimcheon) has been a source of comfort for Hwang Sun-hong, head coach of the U-24 national team.
In the 26th round of the Hana OneQ K League 2 2023 against Seoul Eland at the Gimcheon Sports Complex on March 15, Cho Young-wook took a pass from Kim Min-joon just before half-time from a 2-0 lead and scored a wedge goal to lead the team to a 4-0 victory.
It was Cho’s 12th goal in the league. With this, Cho became the sole leader in K League 2 scoring, surpassing Valdivia (Jeonnam) and Glayson (Gyeongnam-Isang) with 11 goals.
Compared to the beginning of the season, his performance was unbelievable. Cho Young-wook scored just two goals in the first 14 league games after the start of the season. While his versatility shone through, he still lacked the decisiveness that had always been his tagline at FC Seoul.
Since then, however, he has scored 10 goals in 10 games, showing a different kind of determination than before. In particular, he scored goals in seven consecutive games from June 10 against the Ansan Greeners to July 23 against Gyeongnam, establishing a tie for the most consecutive games scored in K League 2 history.
Against Lee Land, Cho Young-wook’s goal-scoring prowess was at its peak. He used his speed to score a goal in the middle of the second half, but the goal was canceled after the video assistant referee (VAR) ruled that a teammate had fouled him earlier, and his shot in the 44th minute hit the post. Cho Young-wook, who went close to the goal, finally scored just before the end.
In the hot summer months, players’ stamina drops and their performance declines. However, the opposite is true for Cho Young-wook, whose performance has improved since entering the summer.
His performance has made Hwang smile. The U-24 team heading to the Asian Games is arguably the strongest ever in terms of second-line resources. Starting with Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain), who is expected to join the team, there are a number of players who could play for the A team, including Hong Hyun-seok (Gent), Jung Woo-young (Stuttgart), 메이저놀이터 Ko Young-joon (Pohang), Uhm Won-sang (Ulsan), and Song Min-gyu (Jeonbuk).
However, the front line is a problem. Park Jae-yong (Jeonbuk) and Ahn Jae-joon (Bucheon) have been selected, but they don’t have the weight. I also tried to select In-Ju-gyu as a wildcard, but he didn’t play well and didn’t make the cut. We also considered Oh Hyun-gyu and Oh Se-hoon (Shimizu), but failed to convince their teams.
With all of this going on, we can now consider using Cho Young-wook, who has recently broken out, as a frontline striker. Although he has been labeled as a midfield option, he can play on the flanks as well as up front. For Hwang, this gives him a trump card.