Young footballer eyes gold in Asiad debut

Still more than a month shy of her 21st birthday, South Korean football player Chun Garam carries a dash of youthful naivete, which could serve her well later this month when she makes her Asian Games debut in China.

Chun is one of a handful of gems unearthed by head coach Colin Bell in the past year or so. She made her senior international debut in November 2022 and put on an impressive showing against Germany in her first career FIFA Women's World Cup start last month in Australia.

As one of South Korea's best players in a 1-1 draw against then world No. 2 Germany, Chun played as though she was blissfully oblivious to pressure of the high-stakes match. She is clearly taking the same mindset to the Asian Games.

"The goal is to win the gold medal," Chun said before the Asiad team's first training session Tuesday at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province. "Personally, I'd like to play in all three group matches and score a goal or pick up an assist. I'd love to score the gold medal-clinching goal at the Asian Games."

The Taegeuk Ladies won bronze medals at each of the past three Asian Games, but a path to the podium this time will be fraught with danger.

South Korea will likely meet Japan, the defending champions and the top-ranked Asian team in the world at No. 8, in the quarterfinals, should they both win their respective groups as expected. Taking on the best team in the tournament in the first knockout match is far from ideal for South Korea, but Chun said she will be ready for challenges.

"By showing what I can at a young age, I want to help women's football in Korea as much as I can," Chun said. "I also want to inspire younger players and instill courage in them. I want them to think that if I can do this, they can do it, too."

Chun earned her first senior international callup almost exactly a year ago and has collected six caps so far. She said she was "grateful" for the continued opportunity to learn and grow.

"I've had some growing pains over the past year, but I've also had some really valuable experience," Chun said. "I want to make sure I keep getting better without wasting any time."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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