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American-Born Teenager Casey Phair Included in South Korea’s Squad for the Women’s World Cup

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — U.S.-born teenager Casey Phair has been selected in South Korea’s 23-player squad for the Women’s World Cup.

The 16-year-old forward has a Korean mother and an American father. She is the first player of mixed heritage to represent South Korea in the top women’s or men’s national soccer teams, and she’s also the youngest.

“I know as the first mixed race player for Korea, men and women, it’s a highlight, it’s something new,” head coach Colin Bell told a news conference Wednesday at the National Football Center in Paju.

“But as far as I’m concerned she’s still a kid and it’s my duty to protect her so she can blossom and really fulfill her potential.”

Bell, who is English, insisted that Phair was going to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand as a full member of the squad and not merely a development project.

“We’re taking care of her, she’s taken very well to the team. She’s selected because I think she can help the team now, like every other player,” Bell said. “She is going not as a passenger but as a valuable member of the squad.”

Phair, who scored five goals in two games for South Korea’s Under-17 team in Asian Cup qualifying before being drafted into the senior squad’s training camp last month, had previously been training in New Jersey with the Players Development Academy.

“I feel really proud and honored to be given this opportunity,” she told reporters. “And I’m ready and willing to do whatever it takes to help the country.”

There are more experienced players available to Bell, with goalkeeper Kim Jung-mi at 38. The team will be led by England-based stars Ji So-yun of Chelsea and Tottenham’s Cho So-hyun, who both have made 144 international appearances.

South Korea has never made it past the second round in three previous Women’s World Cup appearances and will complete preparations with a warm-up against Haiti in Seoul on Saturday.

The South Koreans open their World Cup campaign against Colombia on July 25 in Sydney and will also face Germany and Morocco in Group H.


South Korea squad:

Goalkeepers: Ryu Ji-soo, Kim Jung-mi, Yoon Young-guel

Defenders: Shim Seo-yeon, Lee Young-ju, Lim Seon-joo, Kim Hye-ri, Jang Sel-ji, Choo Hyo-joo, Hong Hye-ji

Midfielders: Kim Yun-ji, Jeon Eun-ha, Bae Ye-bin, Cho So-hyun, Lee Geum-min, Ji So-yun, Chun Ga-ram

Forwards: Kang Chae-rim, Son Hwa-yeon, Moon Mi-ra, Park Eun-sun, Choe Yu-ri, Casey Phair

Source : AP News