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S. Korea advances to U-20 World Cup quarterfinals 

Posted June. 06, 2019 07:35,   

Updated June. 06, 2019 07:35


South Korea defeated Japan 1-0 on Wednesday in the octo-finals of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup at the Lublin Stadium in Lublin, Poland, thanks to the dramatic goal made in collaboration between Choi Jun (Yonsei University) and Oh Se-hun (Asan Mugunghwa FC), both of whom graduated from Hyundai High School in Ulsan.

The match between South Korea and Japan seemed to be heading to an overtime period with no goal scored by either team until the 39th minute in the second half. However, that was when South Korean football player Oh Se-hun scored a winning header by redirecting a left-footed cross from Choi Jun in the penalty area after a Japanese defender cleared a ball. Lee Kang-in (Valencia CF) nicknamed “Shoot Dori” also contributed to the win by controlling the match at the forefront and in the midfield. The South Korean team focused on defense against sharp attacks by Japan in the first half, which was mainly controlled by Japan resulting in the ball occupancy rate of 72% for Japan versus 28% for Korea. In the second half, however, the South Korean team started to attack back against Japan with Um Won-sang (Gwangju FC) with fast feet entering the field as an outside striker. This destabilized Japan’s side defense and Korea proceeded to win the match. Japan’s goal in the third minute of the second half turned out to be offside based on VAR.

Wednesday's win headed South Korea to the quarterfinals for the first time in six years after 2013. It was also South Korea’s revenge for its 1-2 defeat against Japan in the 2003 U-20 quarterfinals held in the United Arab Emirates. With this dramatic win, South Korea’s track record against Japan in U-20 World Cup now boasts 29 wins, nine draws, and six losses.

The South Korean team led by head coach Chung Jeong-yong will now compete against Senegal in Africa at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday for a spot in the semifinals. The team’s first and last appearance in the U-20 semifinals was 36 years ago in 1983 in Mexico under the leadership of then-coach Park Jong-hwan.

“Senegalese players have great physiques in terms of speed and reaction, unlike the players of other teams that South Korea had competed against so far, which will present quite a challenge to the Korean team,“ said commentator Han Jun-hee of KBS, a South Korean public broadcasting company. “South Korean players must adopt a practical strategy by ensuring a tight defense first and look for opportunities to counterattack as they did in the match against Japan when Senegal attempts to move forward based on its speed.”

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com