Tuesday 06 February 2018, 02:20

Teenager Kun thriving in attacking role

  • Jin Kun won Youth Olympic gold at Nanjing 2014

  • Helped China PR seal a return to the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup

  • Highly rated youngster recently earned her first senior cap

When Venezuela lined up against China PR in the final of the 2014 Girls' Youth Olympic Football Tournament at Nanjing, few questioned the South American's chances of a maiden gold medal. The visitors were, indeed, hotly tipped given their team featured six 2014 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup players, spearheaded by talismanic forward Deyna Castellanos.

The game ended, however, in favour of the hosts who unexpectedly ran up a stunning 5-0 winning scoreline. Notable among Lu Yiliang's rampaging side was winger Jin Kun who dazzled through her creative displays and goalscoring talents. The dynamic midfielder provided an assist in the group opener before scoring twice as China made history by winning their first football gold at a global event.

Now four years have elapsed and the milestone achievement remains China's best-ever result in a FIFA campaign. Jin Kun, however, is not one to rest on her laurels. She has continued to make progress down the years, graduating into the national youth side with which she won third-place in 2017’s AFC U-19 Women's Championship to seal a place at this year’s FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in France.

"It was exciting to book our passage to the U-20 Women's World Cup," the teenager told FIFA.com. "It is indeed amazing. I hope we can showcase our progress in the world stage and achieve a satisfying result."

Heir to a legend With exceptional pace and excellent skills, Jin Kun's incisive wing plays provides her side with attacking options. In fact, her work on the flanks is so impressive that she has been likened to Zhao Lihong, a former maestro who figured prominently with the Steel Roses as they finished runners-up behind USA at the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup™.

Even as early as Nanjing 2014 the then coach Lu compared Kun to the former legend speaking with FIFA.com. "Jin Kun has a few of Zhao Lihong’s characteristics," said Lu Yiliang. "Her speed and incisive running are very important to us as a team. A good team must have its own distinctive characteristics and the same is true for any good player."

He would be proved to be right. Kun excelled during Asian qualifying, continuously causing headaches and most notably sealing a 3-0 victory against Australia in the third-place play-off which sealed China’s return to the world stage, having missed the previous edition in Papua New Guinea.

Senior recognition Kun's attacking flair didn't go unnoticed as China’s new boss Siggi Eyjolfsson called her into the senior team. Kun was pushed upfront and deployed as a forward for the first time. "The coach thinks I am fast in attack and I can perform better playing as a striker," she smiled.

"Yes, I have good speed when I go forward and I have the technique to deal with defenders. I can play fast down the flanks and make crosses. I need to connect with team-mates more consistently and make wise, quick decisions on the pitch."

Kun made immediate progress in her new striking role, making a dream national team debut in January's 2018 Four-Nation Tournament when she opened the scoring in the opening 4-0 victory against Vietnam. With April's 2018 AFC Women's Asian Cup looming large and France 2018 kicking off in August, the young attacker couldn't conceal her ambitions for the future.

"With the senior side I hope I can give my best - it would be great if I can score a goal in the Asian Cup. For the U-20 World Cup, I wish that I can make the most of being alongside the world's best. I want to learn from better players, making greater contributions to my team and scoring more goals."