Korea establishes itself as global U-20s powerhouse


South Korea’s U-20 national football team experienced disappointment in their bid for the FIFA U-20 World Cup title in Argentina. The semifinal loss was particularly painful, as the team had the potential to become champions.

Reviewing their performance in past U-20 World Cups, South Korea has consistently demonstrated their competitive ability. Out of the seven editions since 2009, they only failed to qualify once, progressing past the group stage in the other six tournaments. They reached the Round of 16 twice, made it to the quarterfinals twice, and reached the final in the last tournament in 2019, ultimately losing to Ukraine.

This track record indicates that South Korea possesses the potential to win the championship, and it should always be their ambition. The team has been on the cusp of victory for years, which is why losing 2-1 to Italy in the semifinal was disheartening. Cesare Casadei opened the scoring for Italy, but Lee Seung-won equalized from a penalty nine minutes later. With the match seemingly heading to extra time, Simone Pafundi scored a decisive free kick, leaving South Korea with insufficient time to recover.

The team’s elimination in such a manner was cruel, as they had set their sights on winning the title, which would have been a first-ever world championship for Korean men at any age level메이저사이트 (although the women’s U-17 team won in 2010).

The coach, Kim Eun-jung, expressed devastation at the loss, emphasizing the team’s focus and fitness throughout the match. Despite their efforts, they fell short, leading to the players’ profound disappointment.

While winning the senior title may still be a distant goal, as highlighted by their defeat against Brazil in the 2022 World Cup, the younger generation has shown their ability to compete against top teams. The players exhibited sacrifice, dedication, and a strong work ethic, exceeding expectations and proving themselves on the field.

One of the challenges remains ensuring the progression of young talents to the senior national team, a task that has not always been accomplished in the past. Coach Kim, a former striker, has demonstrated potential on the sidelines at the age of 44, especially considering his experience working in Belgium.

Although returning with the trophy would have been ideal, there is optimism for future successes to come for South Korea’s U-20 team.

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