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Suwon starlet looking to keep up reputation with big season

All Headlines 16:09 March 07, 2016

By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, March 7 (Yonhap) -- Suwon Samsung Bluewings' rising star Kwon Chang-hoon admitted on Monday that he felt pressure to have another strong season but said he'll try to keep up the positive momentum and lead his club to glory.

The 21-year-old midfielder emerged as one of the country's most promising stars last year. While netting 10 goals in 35 matches in the top-tier K League Classic last season and getting nominated for the league's Young Player of the Year award, the left-footed star was also pivotal for both the South Korean national and under-23 teams.

Coming off a big season, Kwon knows there are many eyes on him, but he doesn't want to be bothered by it.

"I didn't set specific numbers for this season," Kwon said at the K League Classic media day event Monday. "I do feel pressure, but I want to get rid of that pressure on the pitch and play well in every match this season."

Threatening opponents with powerful shots and slicing defenders with dribble penetration, Kwon has been the engine for Suwon, the runner-up last season behind Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. He acknowledged that defenses will tighten on him but believes he can overcome them with the help of teammates.

"(Beating tighter defenses) is something that I can't overcome by myself," he said. "I just want to carry out the team's tactics well and improve with my teammates."

But what worries Kwon is that he might burn out at the end of the season. In 2015, in addition to the team's league and FA Cup matches, Kwon played seven matches with the national team starting in August, helping Uli Stielike's side win the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) East Asian Cup and qualify for the final round of the Asian qualifiers of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

With the under-23 national team, Kwon played 12 matches and helped the country clinch a berth at the Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after finishing second at the Asian Football Confederation U-23 Championship in Qatar.

"It was physically challenging to play all those games last year," Kwon said. "I will have to figure out how I should manage my stamina till the end of the season."

Entering his fourth season in the K League Classic, Kwon said he just wants to beat every opponent, including Jeonbuk. The 174-centimeter midfielder knows that Suwon are rebuilding with players from their youth academy -- which is also where he cut his teeth -- but believes that the team can produce positive results.

"This year, we also have to play both league and Asian Football Confederation Champions League matches, which can't be ignored," he said. "With our new players, I think we can put on some new and exciting performances for fans this season."

kdon@yna.co.kr
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