Emerging as a “goal-scoring defender,” Choi Seok-hyun (Dankook University, South Korea) will look to put the finishing touches on his career in the final match against Israel in the third-place game of the FIFA U20 World Cup 2023.
Choi has been one of the brightest stars of the tournament in Argentina. At 178 centimeters, he’s not the biggest of center backs, but his quick thinking and good heading ability that doesn’t fall short of his delivery has made him a solid backup for Kim Joong-ho.
Kim Ji-soo (Seongnam) and Choi Seok-hyun 토토사이트 were the best pairing in the tournament, allowing Korea to become the first Asian nation to reach the quarterfinals of two consecutive tournaments.
It was from set pieces that Choi shined. His promising play with captain Lee Seung-won (Gangwon) resulted in two goals from corner kicks alone. He scored a crucial header against Ecuador in the Round of 16 and the game-winning goal in extra time against Nigeria in the quarterfinals.
“I’ve watched the video of my goal so many times,” Choi laughed when we met at the team’s accommodation in La Plata on Tuesday, “I think I’ve watched everything on YouTube in my room.”
“It was just so good. It was better than anything else,” he said, looking embarrassed.
The former Ulsan Hyundai Youth player is one of only two Korean national team players at the tournament, along with goalkeeper Kim Jung-hoon (Korea University). The U20 World Cup is a chance for Choi to make his presence felt on the big stage and boost his chances of breaking into the professional ranks.
“I think (the tournament) is a good opportunity for me to make myself known,” he said, “and I hope to improve further and make my professional debut when I return to Korea.”
Despite his small stature for a central defender, Choi is strong. He has grown with each passing game against taller European players. “In the beginning, I was losing the strength battle,” he said, “but later on, I got to know the types of players, and now I can play a little easier.”
The short center back has his own tricks up his sleeve: “I prepare in advance, position myself, and go first. I’m always trying my best not to lose the battle of strength.”
Choi expressed his determination to win the third-place match against Israel at 2:30 a.m. on June 12.
“I’ve been preparing with my teammates since last year, and I want to finish well and win the beauty of Yuzhong,” he said, adding, “I’ll have fun and smile for the last game.”
Many fans are hoping that he can rattle the Israeli goal with a set piece, as he has done before.
“I’ll have to be lucky,” Choi said, before emphasizing that he will try to do so.
“I haven’t watched much of Israel’s game yet, but if we play the way we want to play, the way we’ve been playing, I think we can finish well,” he said.