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U-20 National Team hope to realize ‘Again 2019’

Posted May. 19, 2023 08:05,   

Updated May. 19, 2023 08:05


Korea’s Under-20 National Soccer Team stunned the world by finishing as runners-up at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland, making South Korea’s best-ever finish. With two goals and four assists in seven games, 18-year-old Lee Kang-in made a name for himself by winning the Golden Ball, which is awarded to the best player.

Coached by Kim Eun-joong, the U-20 team will compete at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina, which starts on June 21. The team aims to replicate the success of Lee Kang-in and reach the quarterfinals for the second consecutive time. The tournament will be held in four Argentine cities over 23 days until June 12. The 24 nations are divided into six groups of four teams each. The first and second-place finishers in each group, as well as the top four third-place teams overall, will advance to the round of 16. From there, it’s a knockout tournament.

The U-20 World Cup, held every two years since 1977, will take place for the first time in four years, following the cancellation of the 2021 match due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The team embarked on a training camp in Brazil on May 7 and arrived in Argentina on May 17 for the final match. "We adjusted to the time difference and climate in Brazil. Argentina is not much different from Brazil, so there won't be much difficulty for the players to adapt. We will prepare to be in the best condition on match day," said Coach Kim. The team will face France in their first Group F match at 3 a.m. on May 23. They will then play against Honduras in the second match at 6 a.m. on May 26, and Gambia in the third match at 6 a.m. on May 29.

When FIFA introduced South Korea on its U-20 World Cup website, it listed Kim Ji-soo as a "key player." It's unusual for a defender to be named a key player. "Kim lays the foundation for South Korea's attack with his excellent build-up play and precise passing, especially with his speed and strength. At the AFC U-20 Asian Cup, Kim was the cornerstone of South Korea's defense," said FIFA.

Strikers Bae Joon-ho and Kim Yong-hak, who scored four goals apiece for the national team, also stand out. FIFA says of Bae, "His touch on the ball and passing are both excellent. He is a nightmare for opposing defenses, particularly when he is active on the ground." Kim Yong-hak, who scored two goals at the Asian Cup, is praised for his individual bursts and goal-scoring ability. "France, the favorite to win the championship, is our first opponent, and we want to prepare well and secure a victory," said Kim.