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Casey Phair aims to make history for South Korea in Olympic qualifiers

Youngest player in Women’s World Cup

Casey Yujin Phair, a half-Korean football player, made history in July as the youngest player to appear in a FIFA Women’s World Cup match at just over 16 years of age. She was also the first player of mixed descent to play for South Korea at a World Cup match, male or female.

Phair was born in South Korea to an American father and a Korean mother, and moved to the United States when she was two months old. She had been a highly regarded teen prospect in America when South Korea head coach Colin Bell brought her in for the World Cup.

With a combination of her size, speed and skill, Phair was one of South Korea’s top players at the World Cup, where the team took an early exit from the group stage. Phair said she was “very proud, very honored” to wear the Korean uniform and represent her mother’s country.

Motivated to make Olympic debut

Phair is now determined to make more history for South Korea and help the country qualify for the Olympics for the first time. Women’s football made its Olympic debut in 1996 and South Korea have never played at the competition.

Casey Phair aims to make history for South Korea in Olympic qualifiers

Phair reported to South Korean training camp on Monday to prepare for the second round of the Asian Olympic qualifiers. South Korea will take on China, North Korea and Thailand beginning Oct. 26 in Xiamen, China, with a spot in the third and final round up for grabs.

“I think it’ll be great to make history for Korea,” Phair said. “And I think that adds more motivation to work harder in training and in the games to qualify.”

Facing tough opponents

With China and North Korea, the two teams that have long dominated South Korea, standing in the way, the path to Paris in 2024 appears as rocky as ever. Phair said she will embrace the challenge and learn from her World Cup experience.

“I hope to work as a team, just to continue to work hard and get better and learn from what we experienced at the World Cup and bring it into the qualifiers,” Phair said.

Bell said Phair is the future of South Korean women’s football and praised her physicality and potential. He said he wanted to protect the teenager from dealing with extra media obligations and let her focus on training and soccer.

Phair, whose parents are in town to follow the tournament, said it hadn’t hit her yet what her debut for the Taegeuk Ladies meant. She said she was just trying to do her best and enjoy playing football.

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