Kim Eun-joong’s U-20 national soccer team has reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup for the second consecutive year. They are the only Asian team to survive in a tournament dominated by South American and European nations.
The team defeated Ecuador 3-2 in the round of 16 at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Santiago del Estero Stadium in Argentina on Sunday (June 2). Bae Joon-ho led the way with a goal and an assist, while Lee Young-joon and Choi Seok-hyun added a goal apiece. 스포츠토토
It was Lee Young-joon who opened the scoring. In the 11th minute, he received a cross from Bae Joon-ho on his chest and fired a non-stop right-footed shot into the net. He broke the offside defense with a clever off-the-ball move to take the lead.
With momentum on their side, the Koreans added another goal in the eighth minute. This time, Bae Joon-ho, who assisted on the first goal, was the man to do it. In the 19th minute, he took a pass from Park Chang-woo in front of the penalty box and finished with his right foot. It was one of the best moments of the game, as he caught the defense and goalkeeper off guard with a single fake move.
After conceding a penalty kick goal to Justin Cuero, the national team struck a wedge to extend their lead at the start of the second half. From a corner set-piece, Lee Seung-won’s cross was headed in by Choi Seok-hyun. Choi’s header proved to be the game-winner as Ecuador pushed hard in the dying minutes, but could only manage one more point.
With the victory, the team reached the quarterfinals for the second time in a row, following their last appearance in 2019. Prior to this tournament, the team had reached the quarterfinals five times, but had never advanced to back-to-back tournaments.
They also stamped their authority as the dominant force in Asian soccer. South Korea is the only Asian team to reach the round of 16. Three South Americans and two Europeans made it to the quarterfinals. Japan, Iraq, and Uzbekistan were all eliminated through the group stage and round of 16.
The team will try to reach the quarterfinals for the second straight tournament at 2:30 a.m. on May 5. Their opponent will be African perennials Nigeria. At the U-20 level, South Korea has met Nigeria four times, winning two and losing two.