Kim Eun-jung-ho was a ‘one-man team’ until the end.
The U-20 national team, led by head coach Kim Eun-jung, has returned home. Kim arrived at Incheon International Airport Terminal 2 at 12:10 p.m. on Thursday. South Korea reached the final four at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023. The team finished in fourth place, marking the second consecutive tournament in which they reached the quarterfinals, following the 2019 tournament.
The driving force behind the U-20 team’s success was the ‘One Team’. Kim Eun-joong-ho has been dubbed the “valley generation” and did not receive much attention before the tournament. It was a far cry from the 2019 tournament, which was centered around Lee Kang-in (22).
Nevertheless, the 20-year-old squad excelled as a team. They executed their tactics according to Kim’s game plan, knocking out powerhouse France in their first game. Against Honduras (Game 2), they showed a fighting spirit to come back from 0-2 to 2-2. In the round of 16, they won a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Ecuador and battled to extra time against quarterfinal opponent Nigeria. The team continued to overcome difficulties as a ‘one team’.
They also showed heart for their teammates. Park Seung-ho (19), who scored the equalizer against Honduras, returned to South Korea midway through the tournament with a fractured ankle. After the win over Nigeria, the players carried his jersey around the stadium to console him.
After returning to South Korea and undergoing surgery, he traveled to Incheon International Airport to participate in a homecoming ceremony with the team. On crutches, Park said, “I felt sorry for the players because I couldn’t be with them until the end. The players did a great job, so I’m happy for them. The surgery went well and I will focus on my recovery.” 안전놀이터
“Before the tournament, Sung Jin-young (KU) was injured and Park Seung-ho left in the middle of the tournament, but the team was united and the players showed strength in every game. I am very grateful to the players.” Lee Seung-won, who won the Bronze Ball as captain and had the best performance, also remained with the team until the end, saying, “After the Nigeria game, all the staff and players jumped up and down, which was very emotional.”