A young Korean soccer player wrote the legend of the semifinals for the second time in a row at the FIFA U20 World Cup.
The U20 Korean national team, led by coach Kim Eun-joong, won 1-0 after extra time in the quarterfinals against Nigeria at the 2023 tournament held in Santiago del Estero, Argentina on the 5th (Korean time).
Korea, which had been runner-up in the 2019 Polish tournament just before, advanced to the semifinals for the second time in a row. The 2021 tournament was not held due to COVID-19. It is the fifth time that Korean men’s football has reached the semifinals in FIFA-sponsored competitions, following the 1983 U20, the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup, and the 2012 London Olympics.
Korea will move to La Plata at 6 am on the 9th to compete with Italy for the final. ‘Survivor’ Israel and ‘South American Survivor’ Uruguay will play the semi-finals first.
The match was led by Nigeria with speed and skill. South Korea fell from 32%-46% in attack share. Korea had a hard time attacking opponents who did not raise the line. They were absolutely inferior at 3-15 in shooting in the first half. There were no valid shots. Nigeria’s three effective shots were saved by Kim Jun-hong (Kim Cheon).
Both teams failed to create decisive chances and went into overtime after repeated pushes and pulls. For Korea, it was regrettable that the whistle was not blown during the second half of extra time when Bae Jun-ho (Daejeon) was caught by the opponent’s defense in the penalty area and fell.
The set piece, which was Korea’s strength in this tournament, flashed in the first five minutes of overtime. Captain Lee Seung-won (Gangwon) took a corner kick from the left, and Choi Seok-hyeon (Dankook University) cut it toward the nearby goalpost, changed direction with his head, and stabbed it into the upper right corner of the goal. It was Korea’s first effective shot. Seok-hyun Choi became the protagonist of the winning goal in two consecutive games following the round of 16 match against Ecuador. Korea has scored 8 goals so far, half of which came from set pieces. Lee Seung-won recorded the most assists in FIFA-sponsored competitions with Lee Kang-in (Mallorca) in the 2019 tournament with 4 assists from set pieces (3 corner kicks, 1 free kick). Nigeria had seven shots in extra time, but none went inside the net.
In fact, ahead of the opening of the tournament, concerns about Kim Eun-joong were greater than expectations. This is because there were no outstanding stars like Lee Seung-woo (Suwon FC) in the 2017 competition and Lee Kang-in in the 2019 competition, and the members did not have much experience in international competitions due to the corona pandemic. However, with the leadership of manager Kim Eun-joong, who communicates delicately and calmly, the players have grown step by step. In particular, coach Kim did not distinguish between starters and candidates, and used all players to unite as a ‘one team’, and in the tournament, he repeatedly advanced with the ‘player defense-reverse counterattack’ tactic.안전놀이터
Coach Kim said after the game, “It’s a concentration fight, so I told you that if you don’t give up until the end and show the power of Korean football, you can win.” He said, “(From the manager’s point of view), I was heartbroken that the players were not recognized, and the players were upset about that,” he said. “But the players pulled out their potential with their own hands. It’s great,” he said.