Kim Eun-joong-ho, who continues to challenge fearlessly, has summoned the record from the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup.
According to the Korea Football Association (KFA) on Friday, the U-20 national team won three games and drew two at the Confederation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup, tying the record for the most points won by a South Korean national team in a FIFA-organized tournament (11). The team equaled its win total from the 2002 World Cup in Japan, where it reached the quarterfinals.
Earlier in the day, the team defeated Nigeria 1-0 in extra time in the U-20 World Cup quarterfinals at the Santiago Del Estero Stadium in Argentina. This is the second consecutive U-20 World Cup quarterfinal after finishing as runners-up in Poland in 2019. It is the fifth-ever quarterfinal appearance in a FIFA-sanctioned national tournament for men’s soccer. It follows the 1983 Mexico U-20 World Cup (fourth place), 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup (fourth place), 2012 London Olympics (bronze medal) and 2019 Poland U-20 World Cup (runner-up).
The Little Taeguk Warriors’ quarterfinal partner is traditional powerhouse Italy. They will play for a spot in the final at 6 a.m. ET on Sept. 9 at La Plata Stadium in Argentina. The Italians defeated Colombia 3-1 in the quarterfinals the previous day to reach their third consecutive quarterfinal. Their record in the tournament is 4-1-1. In the group stage, they were dumped 0-2 by Nigeria, but then beat Brazil 3-2 and topped England 2-1 in the round of 16.
The No. 1 person to watch in the Italian squad is Cesare Cassaday, who leads the team in scoring with six goals. The player, who joined Chelsea in England last year before being loaned to English second-tier Reading earlier this year, is on a three-match scoring streak in the tournament. He has a market value of 12 million euros (about 167 million won).
Having played their quarterfinal a day earlier, Italy have the stamina advantage, finishing in 90 minutes instead of going to 120 minutes like we did. But we may have the edge in the unseen momentum department. South Korea have overcome low pre-tournament expectations and are riding high on an unbeaten run.
Today’s game against Nigeria was a classic case of ‘slow soccer’. Despite being out-shot 4 to 22 and out-attacked 32% to 46%, Korea managed to clinch a spot in the top four with a header from Choi Seok-hyun (Dankook University) in the fifth minute of extra time. The team had one shot on goal. Choi made a name for himself as a ‘goal-scoring defender’ by scoring in two consecutive games.
South Korea overcame a 27% to 60% possession disadvantage in the round of 16 against Ecuador. At the center of this pacey soccer is an elaborate set piece (corners and free kicks). Half of their eight goals, four, came from set pieces. That means the promised play is well organized. The same combination of Lee Seung-won’s (Gangwon) corner and Choi Seok-hyun’s header finish in the quarterfinals shone through.
With one goal and four assists, captain Lee Seung-won tied the record for most assists by a South Korean player in a FIFA-sanctioned tournament. Lee Kang-in (Mallorca) had four assists (two goals) at the 2019 U-20 World Cup. Lee is the first player in Korean soccer history to have all four of his assists come from set pieces (three corner kicks and one free kick). Just as Golden Ball MVP Lee Kang-in’s left foot was part of the runner-up miracle four years ago, Lee’s right foot is leading the team’s surge this time around.
“I told them that it’s a battle of concentration, so if they don’t give up until the end and show Korean strength, they can win,” said Kim Eun-joong, the national team’s head coach. I’m grateful to the players for following the coaching staff.” If they get past Italy, they will meet the winner of Israel-Uruguay in the final 안전놀이터.