“It’s not about the strength of the Gambia, it’s about how eager we are to play and how well we play,” said Kim Woon-joong, head coach of the South Korean national team at the U-20 World Cup in Argentina, ahead of their third group game against the Gambia.
“I think the Gambia is a good team and a strong team in our group, so we’ve been preparing thoroughly,” Kim said at the Club Deportivo Godoy Cruz Antonio Tomba training center in Mendoza, Argentina, on Aug. 28 (KST).
“We beat France in the first round, while Honduras, who lost in the first round, were eliminated if they lost in the second round, so I think the difference in desire made a difference in our performance in the second round,” Kim said. “I think the third round against The Gambia will also be about how desperate we are to play rather than how strong The Gambia is.”
“We analyzed their previous two group games and the Africa Cup of Nations, and their organization, individual ability, and physicality were all outstanding,” Kim said of the Gambia. “Mamin Hunt (20-Bayern Munich) in particular is a threat, but they have a lot of good resources in each position, and there is no place to underestimate any of them, even the substitutes.”
“The Gambian defense is agile and fast,” said Bae Joon-ho (20, Daejeon), an attacking midfielder who played in the second game. “I don’t know where I’ll play, but I’ll try to use my physical players like Lee Young-joon (20, Chunsan Sangmu, Gimcheon) to play give-and-take and attack.”
Regarding the fitness issue that was raised immediately after the second game, Kim said, “After the second game, we managed the players with a focus on recovering their fitness, so we are doing a good job of managing their physical condition.” Bae Joon-ho, who played 53 minutes in the second game after missing the first due to a last-minute injury, said, “I’m grateful that my friends filled in well for me in the first and second games, and (if I play in the third game) I’ll try to play one step harder on behalf of my friends who are struggling.”
Earlier on the 26th, the players exited the mix zone with a somewhat somber look on their faces after the 2-2 draw against Honduras, knowing that they hadn’t qualified for the round of 16. “(The Honduras game) had a dark side because the players were left with more regrets, and they didn’t do it in a situation where (they) thought they could definitely decide,” Kim said, “but I told the players that there was no need for the atmosphere to sag, and since we are managing the points well, we will create a good atmosphere and show a good performance in tomorrow’s game.” 스포츠토토
The third leg against Group F leaders Gambia (6 points) will be played at the Malvinas Argentinas stadium in Mendoza, where the first two legs were played, at 6 a.m. on Sept. 29. The Koreans, who are second in the group with four points after two games, need only a draw against the Gambia to qualify for the round of 16 on their own.