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Team Korea aims to reach U-20 World Cup final

Posted June. 08, 2023 09:07,   

Updated June. 08, 2023 09:07


South Korea will face off against Italy in the group league in its bid to advance to the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 at 6 a.m. on Friday at La Plata Stadium in Argentina. Italy has reached the semifinals in three consecutive tournaments through the current event. Their best result for the European team in the tournament is third place (2017). In 2019, they finished fourth. In this ongoing tournament, Italy finished second in Group D (2 wins and one loss) when advancing to the round of 16.

The player to watch out in Team Italy is midfielder Cesare Cassaday, who is atop in scoring in the tournament with six goals (two assists). In five games through the quarterfinals, he ranked first in the team in shots (20), distance covered (71.72 kilometers), and sprints (362). Cassaday uses his great height (185 centimeters) to his advantage to head, dribble, and pass. He has scored three of his six goals in the tournament through headers. Kim Eun-jung, head coach of the South Korean national team, said, "Cassaday is an outstanding player who can run the game well and score goals. That’s the reason Chelsea FC signed him."

South Korea, which reached the semifinals for the second consecutive U-20 World Cup following the 2019 event, has beaten Italy in both matches that the two teams have played in the tournament. South Korea is the only unbeaten team (three wins, two draws) among the four finalists in the tournament. In five games, South Korea has scored eight goals and conceded five. The team's strength is quick transition between attack and defense, counterattacks, and set plays based on its strong physicality. Four of South Korea's eight goals have come from set pieces, all of which have been either game-winners or equalizers. South Korea honed its set-piece attack capability during a 10-day training camp in São Paulo, Brazil, starting on May 7. The starting point for its set pieces is Captain Lee Seung-won’s right foot. Lee has four assists (one goal) from free kicks and corner kicks. He is leading the tournament in assists.

Ahead of the semifinal match between South Korea and Italy, FIFA singled out the key players for both teams, including Kim Ji-soo (Seongnam FC) for South Korea and Cassaday for Italy. KIM, the central defender, started all five tournament matches and anchored the Korean defense line.

Bae-Jung Kim wanted@donga.com