Thursday 07 May 2020, 23:54

New star Oh looks to role-model Kim as K League resumes

  • K League kicks off this weekend

  • Sangmu forward Oh aims high for new season

  • Korea Republic star prospect looks to idol Kim Shinwook

Towering centre-forward. Former Ulsan Hyundai man. Superb aerial ability combined with exceptional predatory instincts.

It sounds like a portrayal of Korea Republic and Shanghai Shenhua striker Kim Shinwook. And they are indeed the attributes which perfectly describe the phenomenal 32-year-old goal-getter and Taegeuk Warriors FIFA World Cup™ attacker.

But it also describes the characteristics of a new star on the horizon. Oh Sehun has been likened with Kim following his exploits as a national youth team representative over recent years.

The lanky striker figured prominently in Korea Republic's milestone runners-up finish at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 before excelling in January's 2020 AFC U-23 Championship, where his side finished as champions to book qualification to the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Tokyo.

The 21-year-old Oh unhesitatingly hailed Kim as his role model. "He is my idol," Oh, who moved from Ulsan to military club Sangju Sangmu to fulfil his national duties last December, told "I have grown up watching him play, following his style of play."

Shining at Poland 2019

Standing 193cm tall, it seems obvious that Oh would have similar aerial attributes to Kim. And he showcased his goalscoring knack at Poland 2019, scoring two headed goals en route to their maiden final.

"Heading is my greatest strength," he said. "It is a very important way of goalscoring for me. I have tried my best to improve it through endless training and practice."

Notably, he opened the scoring against Argentina in a group concluder to set his team on to the path to a decisive 2-1 win, before netting the match winning-goal against Japan in the Round of 16.

But it was the opener against the South Americans which gave him most satisfaction. "It was a make-or-break scenario for us," he reflected. "We had to defeat them to progress to the next stage.

"A team-mate sent in an inch-perfect cross from the left which found me and it made my job easy. It was a sensational victory."

Oh and his team-mates went on to impress in the campaign, storming to the final for the first time only to lose 3-1 to Ukraine. "The U-20 World Cup provided me with a rare chance to improve further. We competed with the world's best teams and we gained very good experiences," he said.

Oh continued his prolific form with another two-goal haul in the recent AFC U-23 Championship where his side claimed their maiden title. With the qualifying mission complete, he has switched his sights on improving upon Korea Republic’s bronze-medal performance at London 2012.

"Winning our first Asian U-23 Championship title is a lasting inspiration for us. We are confident that we can break new ground in the next Olympic Games. Now we are qualified, we won't let the chance slip away."

Embracing return to football

It is fair to say that Oh shoulders growing expectations with both club and country. Even the COVID-19 pandemic has done little to dent his enthusiasm for the upcoming campaign. "Since joining my new club, I have been training hard and getting myself prepared for the coming K League season," he said.

And the return to football in his homeland has finally arrived with the K League kicking-off this weekend after being scheduled to commence in February. Awaiting in Saturday’s season-opener are none other than former club Ulsan, last season's runners-up.

As for the long term, Oh again looks to Kim. "Of course, I want to become a successful player like Kim and try to emulate his feats.

"Then I will work hard and I hope I will surpass him in the future. For the long run, my ultimate goal is to become a player who challenges every limit and to represent my country at the FIFA World Cup as a centre-forward."

Oh Sehun profile

Born: 15 January 1999 Height: 193 cm Teams: Sangju Sangmu and Korea Republic U-23 team Honours: - 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup runners-up - 2020 AFC U-23 Championship champions