South Korea’s national team coach Paulo Bento had to sit in the spectators’ stand after receiving a red card in the previous match. Kim Min-jae, a centerpiece of the Korean teams’ defense line, could not play due to a calf injury. Unlike in the 2002 and 2010 World Cups, when Korea advanced to the round of 16, Team Korea failed to secure favorable outcomes in the first and second matches at this year’s World Cup in Qatar. The team had one win and one draw in 2002 and one win and one loss in 2010, but it had one draw and one loss this time. Even if it won the third match, there was no guarantee it would advance to the second round. However, the Korean players and the Korean people never gave up. Even when the match was tied 1-1 after the 45 minutes for the second half had passed, they never gave up. Then, the Taegeuk Warriors scored an upset goal at 2 a.m. on Saturday, rocking the entire Republic of Korea.
Until then, Korea’s advance to the round of 16 was still not confirmed. The Uruguay – Ghana match, which started concurrently with the Korea-Portugal match, outlasted the latter, with Uruguay leading Ghana 2-0. If Uruguay had added a goal or Ghana scored a goal, Korea could have been eliminated in place of Uruguay due to the goal difference. However, their match ended 2-0, confirming Korea’s advance to the next round. People made shouts of victory. It was a truly miraculous win. It was a victory overcoming the probability of 11 percent, according to experts’ calculation, and was the most dramatic win in the group round, according to the Washington Post.
A miraculous win does not come to anyone. It comes only to people who never give up. As we never gave up until the last moment, the players went all-out despite being completely exhausted. The Korean people braved the subzero temperature at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul to root for Team Korea. Whether the team wins or loses is secondary. Players who do their best to the very last moment, even when they are trailing score, will win sometime in the future without fail. It just happened to be the match against Portugal after those against Uruguay and Ghana.
On Tuesday, Team Korea will play its second-round match against Brazil, ‘constantly one of the most favorite candidates for the champion.’ Team Korea has significantly improved its teamwork through the first three matches in the group round. Once considered less valuable than his capability, Lee Kang-in joined the foray, followed by Hwang Hee-chan. It will be the best-case scenario if Kim Min-jae overcomes his injury to return to the ground. Unlike 2002, when we felt Korea barely defeated Portugal, the Korean national team was qualified enough to win this time. As such, there is no reason for Korea to be afraid of Brazil. We have never given up and will never give up. Let us advance to the quarterfinals and the semifinals. Let us achieve the legendary success of advancing to the semifinals again after 2002.