After reaching the quarterfinals of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Under-20 (U-20) World Cup for the second consecutive time, South Korea’s head coach Kim Eun-jung praised his team’s performance against South American underdogs Ecuador and vowed to prepare well for their quarterfinal match against Nigeria.
In a local interview after South Korea’s round of 16 match against Ecuador at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 at the Santiago del Estero Stadium in Argentina on June 2 (KST), Kim said, “The players did a good job from the preparation process. I told the players that today could be their last game because we don’t have another match, but they were well prepared, so it was a good result.”
Kim’s South Korea U-20s advanced to the quarterfinals with a 3-2 victory over Ecuador earlier in the day. This is their second consecutive U-20 World Cup quarterfinal appearance after finishing as runners-up in Poland in 2019.
Korea took the lead in the first half with back-to-back goals from Lee Young-joon (Gimcheon) and Bae Joon-ho (Daejeon) before conceding on a penalty kick, but Choi Seok-hyun (Dankook University) scored three minutes into the second half to seal the win. Ecuador pulled one back in the 39th minute, but Korea held on for the win.
Coach Kim said, “Since the tournament was held in South America, Ecuador had a home advantage. The Ecuadorian players were very confident and physical, which made it difficult for our players, but I am grateful that they stayed focused and finished the game well.”
When asked to name a player of the match, Kim emphasized that it was the whole team.
“As I said at the end of the first game, we have 21 players and we play as a team. I think we won today because we fought as a team, including the players who played in the first half, the players who came on as substitutes in the second half, the players who couldn’t play, and even Park Seung-ho (Incheon) who returned home due to injury.”
The team will now prepare for their quarterfinal match against Nigeria on May 5 at 2:30 a.m. at the Santiago del Estero Stadium. 안전놀이터
Their opponents, Nigeria, have been dubbed the “Group of Death,” and they are riding high on a 2-1 record in Group D, the same as Brazil and Italy, and a 2-0 win over hosts Argentina in the round of 16 the day before.
“I don’t think there is anything next. “We’re going to give everything to Nigeria,” Kim said. “They had one more day off than us, so we’ll focus on recovery and prepare for the quarterfinals.