With a spot in the round of 16 already secured. With the final match of the group stage of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 against The Gambia still to come, U-20 coach Kim Eun-jung (44) has no intention of wasting any energy. “We will make up for what we lacked against the Gambia,” he said, adding that he would not let his guard down until the end after praising the Gambia. It can be explained as a strategy to find both ‘practicality’ and ‘reason’.
“The Gambia is the best prepared team in this tournament in terms of organization and individual skills,” Kim warned through the Korea Football Association on the 28th, adding, “For an African team, their organization is good, and they have players who are evenly matched and perfect in all positions. I think they are the team to watch in this tournament.”
South Korea will play the Gambia in their final Group F match at the Mendoza Stadium in Argentina on Sept. 29 at 6 a.m. KST.
With one win and one draw in Group F (four points), South Korea has already punched its ticket to the round of 16. Japan’s 1-2 come-from-behind loss to Israel in Group C on Aug. 28 secured at least a third-place finish in the group with three points (one win, two losses).
In the 24-nation tournament, the top four teams from the first and second place finishers in each group (12 teams total) will join the round of 16. Even if South Korea loses to the Gambia, they can still finish in the top four out of the top six teams.
The Gambia also have two wins (six points) and will advance to the round of 16 regardless of the outcome of the South Korean game. As Kim warned, the Gambia is a formidable opponent. They won their first match 2-1 against Honduras and followed it up with a 2-1 win against France. They were initially picked as the underdogs in Group F, but when the lid was lifted, the opposite was true. The Gambia came into the tournament as runners-up at the Africa U-20 Nations Cup.
Kim Eun-joong, head coach of the South Korea U-20 national soccer team. /Photo courtesy of the Korea Football Association
“We don’t need to exhaust our physical strength if we advance to the round of 16 early,” says coach Kim Eun-joong in an interview before the round of 16 was confirmed… but we’ll make up for it with our best effort
In an interview with the Korea Football Association before the round of 16 was confirmed, Kim said, “If (advancing to the round of 16) is confirmed early, there is no need for physical exhaustion.” Therefore, Kim is expected to use rotation in the Gambia game to ensure the team’s physical strength.
First, goalkeeper Kim Jun-hong (Gimcheon Commerce) and central defender Choi Seok-hyun (Dankook University) will not be available for the Gambia match due to accumulated warnings and suspensions, respectively. According to the Korea Football Association, striker Park Seung-ho (Incheon United), who scored the equalizer against Honduras, has suffered an ankle injury and his availability is uncertain. In their place, players who have not been given a chance to play will be called upon.
Still, there is no game they can afford to lose. “We gave everything against France, so there were some things we didn’t recover from against Honduras,” said Kim. I think it’s a good experience because we were less than Honduras in terms of desperation. I think it’s a good experience.” Kim is determined to make up for the deficiencies against Gambia and give it our best shot.
In fact, the current U-20s have some fitness concerns due to the fact that they haven’t played many games for their national team. Against Honduras, despite having an 11:10 numerical advantage, they were unable to find a way forward as their defense completely collapsed. Furthermore, in the final third, the entire squad showed signs of tiredness, conceding crucial goals on the counterattack.
Why stamina matters more than anything. Because the Taeguk Warriors are once again facing a big challenge. They are playing for more than just a round of 16 match. They need to be in good shape to continue to advance in the tournament. That’s why Kim’s comments about utilizing a rotation are welcome.
Kim Eun-joong (fourth from right), head coach of the South Korean U-20 national team, with players of the South Korean U-20 national team. /Photo courtesy of the Korea Football Association
Previously, South Korea reached the round of 16 at the 2017 U-20 World Cup in South Korea before finishing as runners-up at the 2019 tournament in Poland. Under the tutelage of Jung Jung-yong, the golden generation of Lee Kang-in and Oh Se-hoon got the job done. Lee Kang-in was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Although the team lost 1-3 to Ukraine in the final, they received generous applause. The team hopes to recreate the same myth at the upcoming tournament.메이저놀이터
Meanwhile, the Korean men’s national team has made it through the group stage of five consecutive FIFA-organized tournaments, starting with the 2019 U-20 World Cup in Poland (runner-up), followed by the 2019 U-17 World Cup in Brazil (quarterfinals), the 2021 Tokyo Olympics (quarterfinals) and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar (round of 16). The Olympic Games are organized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and governed by FIFA.