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S. Korean U-23 football team is one win away from earning Olympic ticket

S. Korean U-23 football team is one win away from earning Olympic ticket

Posted January. 21, 2020 07:27,   

Updated January. 21, 2020 07:27


The South Korean national under-23 football team has one more victory to go to book their place at a ninth straight Olympics. After their hard-won victory the previous day, the footballers had a training session on Monday as well.

The South Korean squad beat Jordan 2-1 to reach the semifinal at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship on Sunday, thanks to Lee Dong-gyeong’s last-minute goal in the 81st minute. They initially planned to have recovery training in a swimming pool but the coaching staff decided to have a tactical training session on the field, considering the importance of a semifinal match. “We’ll check short pass plays and complement our defense,” said coach Kim Hak-bum.

South Korea will meet Australia in the semifinal in Rangsit, Thailand at 10:15 p.m. on Wednesday. The South Korean team will win a ticket to the Olympics if it beats Australia on Wednesday since the top three teams are qualified for the Olympics. If it loses, it will have to secure a victory in the third-place match.

Australia’s most threatening player is Nicholas D’Agostino, who scored two goals against South Korea in the qualification rounds. Having scored two goals as well in the tournament, D’Agostino is strong in tussles and has good kicking skills. Forward Al Hassan Toure, who scored the winner against Syria in the quarterfinal, is highly likely to be substituted in the second half to add speed and foot skills to the team.

Fans are expecting a goal from South Korea’s forward Oh Se-hoon and midfielder Lee Dong-gyeong as they have scored in recent two games. Against Australia, which has four tall defenders over 184 centimeters, South Korea is likely to name Oh, who is 193 centimeters tall, as a lone striker in the semifinal given that he scored a goal from a tough tussle in the qualification round on Jan. 3.

Lee Dong-gyeong, who scored his first goal at a quarterfinal game, aims to score from his quick attacks and free-kicks. He burst into tears after winning the quarterfinal match since he had showed below-par performances during the group stage. “I am determined to win against Australia, thinking I am playing the final match,” Lee said.

Yun-Cheol Jeong trigger@donga.com