The coach was more famous than the players.
Kim unleashed the potential of a group of under-the-radar players with a thorough preparation that made Korean soccer history.
Kim Eun-jung’s South Korea U-20 soccer team advanced to their second consecutive World Cup quarterfinal with a 1-0 victory over Nigeria on Friday (June 5) in extra time at the Santiago del Estro Stadium in Argentina, with Choi Seok-hyun scoring the winning goal.
South Korea did not concede a goal in regulation time with a strong defense against Nigeria’s pacey attack. In the fifth minute of the first overtime, Choi Seok-hyun (Dankook University) headed in a corner kick from Lee Seung-won (Gangwon) for the game-winning goal.
With the win, South Korea completed another miraculous run to the quarterfinals. It is the only Asian nation to reach back-to-back quarterfinals.
Previously, Japan had reached the quarterfinals three times in a row (1995 quarterfinals, 1997 quarterfinals, 1999 runners-up), but with the exception of one runner-up finish, they stopped the challenge in the quarterfinals.
South Korea is coming off a runner-up finish at the 2019 edition of the tournament.
Kim Eun-joong-ho had been flying under the radar until just before the tournament.
He reached the semifinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-20 Asian Cup 2023 in Uzbekistan in March, which served as a qualifier for the tournament, before falling to hosts Uzbekistan in the final.
At the time, the team was criticized for 스포츠토토 its performance and lack of big-name players.
In addition, the team’s physical fitness was also an issue, as players in that age group were not getting enough playing time in the K League. With the exception of Bae Jun-ho (Daejeon), most of the players were not even utilized as rotation resources.
However, Kim Eun-joong made a lot of changes to the roster on short notice.
Despite the difficult grouping, he focused on defense and used Lee Young-joon (Gimcheon), Kim Yong-hak (Portimonense), and Lee Seung-won to attack the opposition with counterattacks and set pieces.
What they lacked in physical strength, they made up for with quick substitutions and evenly distributed playing time. With the exception of a few players, the team used two players for each position.