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S. Korea, Japan to jockey for EAFF E-1 championship

Posted July. 27, 2022 07:56,   

Updated July. 27, 2022 07:56


The first football match between Korea and Japan will kick off in 16 months. The national team of South Korea will face a showdown with Japan on Wednesday for the EAFF E-1 Football Championship at 7:20 p.m. in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture. A full league among the four Asian teams including South Korea, Japan, China, and Hong Kong, the EAFF E-1 championship trophy will find its way either to South Korea, 2-0-0 with six points, and Japan, 1-1-0 with four points.

Under the total record, Korea stands above Japan with 42 wins, 23 draws and 15 losses. Since the 2000s, however, the two rivals have competed neck-and-neck with 6-7-5 for South Korea. The latest rival match was held in March last year in Yokohama where Team Korea suffered a humiliating defeat by 0-3. It was the third football match where the national team was defeated by Japan by more than three goals, following the regular match in 1974 (1-4) and the friendly in 2011 (0-3). Ironically, South Korea’s U-23 team also lost to Japan 0-3 last month in the AFC in Uzbekistan.

The Wednesday game will be an opportunity for South Korea to lift the trophy and get even with Japan. Those who played in the latest match, which is dubbed the “Yokohama disaster” are resolute to win. Cho Hyeon-woo, Park Ji-soo, Hong Cheol and Na Sang-ho played on the pitch, and Cho Young-wook and Yoon Jong-gyu suffered the humiliation from the bench in Yokohama. “I could not even sleep after being defeated,” recounted Na Sang-ho, prepping for revenge.

They are on a good trajectory. In the second round of EAFF on Sunday, South Korea and Japan utilized their rotation members, each against Hong Kong and China, and South Korea won 3-0 while Japan got tied 0-0, allowing some recovery time for Korea’s first squad.

Given the high stake, the match will likely become an all-out fight between the two long-standing rivals in Asia. “I am only thinking about how we defeat them and win the championship,” said Team Korea manager Paulo Bento, who understands the importance of this match from his experiences in Yokohama in March last year. Hajime Moriyasu, the manager of Japanese national team who finds himself in a tight spot after showing underperformance against China’s relatively young squad, also vowed to lead his team to an ultimate victory in the end.

Bae-Jung Kim wanted@donga.com