Before the start of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, the South Korean U-20 team was an underdog without Lee Seung-woo (25-Suwon FC) or Lee Kang-in (22-Real Mallorca). After reaching the quarter-finals, Kim Eun-joong (44), head coach of the U-20s, admitted he was “heartbroken that the players were not recognised”. But the nation is behind them as they look to reach their second final since 2019.
The Korea Football Association (KFA) announced on 7 July that “Seoul and the Red Devils will hold a group street rally at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul at 6am on the 9th, the day of the match, to support our youth national team as they take on Italy in the U-20 World Cup semi-final.”메이저사이트
The Korea U-20 team, led by Kim Eun-joong, will face Italy at 6am on 9 September at La Plata Stadium in Argentina in the quarter-finals for a ticket to the final.
The team was not expected to do much before the tournament began. They had Lee Seung-woo at the 2017 tournament in South Korea and a star-studded ace in Lee Kang-in at the 2019 tournament in Poland. Add to that the lack of international matches due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and the squad fell off the radar.
However, they made waves in their first match, beating favourites France 2-1. They went on to defeat Ecuador 3-2 in the round of 16 and Nigeria 1-0 in the quarter-finals on a header from Choi Seok-hyun in extra time, becoming the first Asian team to reach the quarter-finals of two consecutive tournaments.
“There were actually no expectations (around the team) and there was a lot of concern,” said Kim Eun-joong after the game. “I didn’t know much about the players, and the players were upset about this,” he said. “I felt bad because they had potential and it wasn’t recognised. I’m grateful to the manager and coaching staff. I am proud of the players for bringing out their potential with my hands,” he said in an emotional interview.
The KFA organised the street cheer for the first time in nearly six months after the team’s round-of-16 loss to Brazil at the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar in December last year to give the young national team a boost.
Kim is hoping to break the record of back-to-back quarter-finals in two tournaments and create a new history in Korean football by reaching back-to-back finals. At the 2019 tournament in Poland, the Lee-led U-20s reached their first final after beating Ecuador 1-0 in the quarter-finals. In the final, they were unable to reach the final as they lost 1-3 to Ukraine.