The Korean under-20 (U-20) men’s soccer team achieved the feat of advancing to the semifinals for the second consecutive time at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. The next-generation Taegeuk Warriors wrote a new history based on strong teamwork in the tournament, which was participated in indifferently because there were few key players in the K-League, let alone star players.
The Korean U-20 national team, led by coach Kim Eun-joong, advanced to the semi-finals by defeating Nigeria 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup held at the Santiago del Estero Stadium in Argentina on the 5th (Korean time). In the 5th minute of the first half of extra time, Lee Seung-won (Gangwon FC)’s corner kick was headed by Choi Seok-hyeon (Dankook University) to score the winning goal.스포츠토토
With this, Korea succeeded in advancing to the semifinals for the second consecutive time following the runner-up in the 2019 Polish tournament. It is the 5th time that Korean soccer has reached the semifinals in a FIFA-sponsored competition. These are the three U-20 World Cups (1983, 2019, 2023), the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup, and the 2012 London Olympics.
Korea is on a 5-game undefeated streak with 3 wins and 2 draws. According to the Korea Football Association, it has been 21 years since the Korean men’s and women’s national teams recorded 3 wins and 2 draws in 5 matches in a FIFA-sponsored competition since winning the penalty shootout against Spain in the Korea-Japan World Cup quarterfinals.
It is all the more meaningful because it was achieved amid low interest. There were few opportunities to gain experience in international games due to Corona 19, and there were no star players like Lee Seung-woo in the 2017 tournament or Lee Kang-in in 2019, so concerns were greater than expectations. This is why coach Kim said in a broadcast interview after the game, “Actually, I had no expectations for our players and had a lot of concerns.”
Coach Kim said, “It’s a battle of concentration, so he told me that we could win if we didn’t give up and showed Korea’s strength until the end.” I think it will be the future of Korean football in the future,” he praised his students.
Kim Eun-joong defeated strong players one after another with practical soccer, even though he had a low ball possession rate. In the first match against France, the ball possession rate was 32%-57% (contention 12%), the number of shots was 9-24, but they won 2-1, and in the round of 16, Ecuador occupancy rate was 27%-60% (contention 13%), shooting They trailed Sud 8-26, but won 3-2.
In the background, there is solid defensive organization and efficient set pieces. It was the same with Nigeria. Occupancy rate was 32%-46% (22% contention), and the number of shots was greatly pushed to 4-22, but effective shooting was 1-3, which was not a big difference. After a good defense, a set-piece attack like a mace brought victory. In particular, in the game that day, he showed the sharpness of leading only one effective shot into a goal.
Kim Eun-joong scored 4 of the 8 goals in this tournament from set pieces. Dedicated kicker Lee Seung-won raised 4 assists and stood shoulder to shoulder with Lee Kang-in 4 years ago. At that time, Lee Kang-in led Korea to the final with 2 goals and 4 assists. Lee Seung-won is the first player in Korean football history to record all four assists as set pieces.
Korea’s next goal is to advance to the finals of the U-20 World Cup for the second consecutive year. The U-20 national team will play the semi-final against Italy in La Plata, Argentina at 6 a.m. on the 9th, Korean time. If they win in the semifinals, they will compete for the championship with the winner of the Israel-Uruguay match.