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U-20 World Cup

Lee Kangin ready to help Korea Republic to U-20 World Cup glory

We caught up with the Valencia and Korea Republic star as he prepares for the U-20 World Cup final against Ukraine in Poland.

BIELSKO-BIALA, POLAND - JUNE 08: Kangin Lee of Korea Republic scores his team's first goal from the penalty spot during the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup Quarter Final match between Korea Republic and Senegal at Bielsko-Biala Stadium on June 08, 2019 in B
Alex Livesey - FIFAFIFA via Getty Images

Lee Kangin is the leading star of the Korea Republic Under-20 side and one of the big names at the U-20 World Cup currently being held in Poland, where the Koreans have qualified for the final, beating Ecuador 1-0.

Wherever he goes he's pursued by hordes of journalists from his home country, but he still had a few minutes to talk to AS in Spanish and discuss how his season with Valencia has been and what it feels like being one step away from being crowned world champion.

The season with Valencia started badly but you went on to win the Copa del Rey and have the chance of winning the Under-20 World Cup. What are your thoughts on the season?

For me it's been a great experience being able to be a part of the first team. Now I'm at the World Cup thanks to the whole coaching team and with my teammates we're in the final and we'll try to go into it in great shape to be able to win it.

Do you feel comfortable in a more defensive set-up, like the one Korea uses, where you don't have so much support when you receive the ball?

I try to help whichever team I'm with. If I'm with Valencia I try to help to them and if I'm here I try to help the national side. I think that's normal and every player does that. In every game I try to help my team.

Do you regret not having been in the final of the Copa del Rey because you joined up with the national team beforehand?

I don't regret it, I decided to join up with the Under-20, I was keen to start the World Cup and I wanted to prepare for it well. I'm pleased at reaching the final and now to be able to try to win it. The coach came all the way to Valencia to convince the club and I believed in this group that we've created over two years.

What's the plan for next season – are you thinking about a loan to get more playing time?

It's not the time to talk about that. When the World Cup is over we'll see what happens about my future. Just now I'm focused on the tournament.

Your parents moved to Valencia to help you, how do they feel seeing you in the national side?

I haven't spoke to my parents yet, they're in Korea. I told them I wanted them to be in Korea and not in Poland because no doubt they’ll enjoy being at home a lot. I guess they'll be proud. I have to give thanks to my family, they've all come to Spain to help.

In spite of how young you are you show a lot of maturity on the pitch, where does that maturity come from?

I don't know if it's maturity; what I try to do is help my team-mates to win and nothing more. 

How do you evaluate the win over Ecuador, that saw you reach the World Cup final?

The team was good defensively and we had chances to score more. I think my teammates have worked really well. I've put in a lot of effort and we'll try to get ready for the final for in the best way possible.


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