The valley generation heralded a golden age

The Korean under-20 (U-20) men’s soccer team finished the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 4th place. Although they unfortunately lost in the last two matches, they cleared away their indifference and the stigma of being the ‘Valley Generation’ and achieved a semi-final legend, proving that they are swans, not ugly ducklings.

The Korean U-20 soccer team, led by coach Kim Eun-joong, lost 1-3 to Israel in the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup 3rd and 4th place match held at La Plata Stadium in Argentina on the 12th (Korean time). South Korea scored the first goal in the 19th minute of the first half, and captain Lee Seung-won (Gangwon) succeeded in a penalty kick obtained by Bae Jun-ho 5 minutes later to tie the game at 1-1, but unfortunately lost after conceding consecutive goals in the 31st and 40th minutes of the second half.

Ahead of the tournament, the gaze toward Kim Eun-joong was apathetic. There was no player who was firmly established in the K-League, let alone a star player like Lee Kang-in (Mallorca). It was not a towering peak like other generations, but it was called the unpleasant name of the ‘Valley Generation’, which was not visible in between.

Lee Hyeon-joo (Bayern Munich) and top scorer Seong Jin-yeong (Korea University) in the U-20 Asian Cup team dropped out due to injury, and Park Seung-ho (Incheon) also withdrew due to an ankle fracture during the tournament. There were also negative factors such as a lack of international experience due to COVID-19 and a sudden change of venue. Four years ago, Korea won the highest ever runner-up, but the first goal of this tournament was to pass the group stage.

But a huge gale blew through this valley. From the first match, it caused a stir by defeating the championship candidate France 2-1, and advanced to the round of 16 undefeated by drawing with Honduras (2-2) and Gambia (0-0). Since then, it has achieved the splendid feat of advancing to the semifinals for the second consecutive time, beating strong opponents such as Ecuador (3-2) in the round of 16 and Nigeria (1-0) in the quarterfinals.

Korea defeated strong players one after another with thorough practical soccer in this tournament. Despite the inferiority of ball possession and number of shots, he effectively blocked the opponent’s attack with solid defensive organization and launched a counterattack. In particular, 6 out of 10 goals in this tournament (2 goals from penalty kicks) came from set-pieces, so they prepared meticulously for set-pieces.

Warm leadership is also essential. Coach Kim, who had tears in his eyes when he mentioned the players after successfully advancing to the semifinals, created synergy through smooth communication with the players. Even after the tournament, he said, “There was no issue during the preparation process (not getting attention), so motivation could be lost, but the players endured the hardships.” “Thank you for proving their worth at the World Cup.”메이저사이트

As he said, the players proved themselves. Captain Seung-Won Lee recorded 3 goals and 4 assists in this tournament and won the Bronze Ball (3rd best player). The 7 attack points are the highest ever recorded by a Korean player in FIFA men’s competitions, surpassing Lee Kang-in’s (2 goals and 4 assists) points four years ago.

Meanwhile, in the final, Uruguay defeated Italy 1-0 to claim their first U-20 World Cup title. Italy’s Cesare Casadei won the Golden Ball award for best scorer and best player with seven goals.

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