“I’m very disappointed because we played a good game and lost. The players dedicated themselves to the team and gave more than 100 percent.”
Kim Eun-joong, 44, said this shortly after South Korea’s 1-2 loss to Italy in the quarterfinals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023 at the Estadio Ciudad de La Plata in La Plata, Argentina, on Sept. 9 (KST).
On the day, Kim’s South Korea U-20s conceded an early goal to Cesare Cassaday (20-Reading) just 14 minutes after kickoff. But they quickly equalized. In the 19th minute, Bae Jun-ho (19-Daejeon Hana Citizens) won a penalty kick (PK), which was converted by Lee Seung-won (20-Gangwon FC). After that, they gradually regained the momentum.
However, after the equalizer, Kim Eun-Joong-ho struggled with some rough fouls from Italy. The Italians blatantly used their elbows and hands to hit the face and body parts during the contest, as well as pulling on the jerseys to the point of tearing them and raising their feet high. The referees didn’t seem to notice, even though it could have led to serious injuries. In fact, on the day, Italy committed 26 fouls in 90 minutes. However, only three warnings were issued.
Kim Eun-jong-ho managed to stay focused and hold on. He didn’t let his nerves get the better of him, even when Italy kept committing rough fouls and looking rather puzzled afterward. Even when the referee gave them a caution instead of a warning or didn’t blow the whistle, they kept their cool. However, a fantastic free kick by Simone Papundi (17-Udinese) just before the end of the game cost them the game.
With the loss, Korea was denied a second consecutive appearance in the final and will now head to the third-place playoff to face Israel, who lost 0-1 to Uruguay on Wednesday. Korea’s all-time record against Italy at the U-20 level is 3-2-1.
“Toward the end of the game, the players’ concentration and physical strength gave us an advantage and we created some good chances,” said Kim. We played well as we prepared, but we couldn’t score when we had chances, so it was a disappointing result.” “We lost after playing a good game, so we have a lot of regrets,” he concluded.
However, Kim said, “I think the players showed tears of disappointment because they did their best until the end,” and added, “They must have been really upset because they didn’t have high expectations, but they didn’t hold back and came this far with only one goal. They dedicated themselves to the team more than anyone else and gave more than 100 percent, and they showed good performances and results throughout the tournament with high concentration compared to the short preparation period,” he said, applauding their dedication regardless of the outcome. 스포츠토토
Kim’s journey isn’t over yet. The team is determined to win against Israel and complete the podium. “It will be mentally tough for the players. “The third or fourth place match is the last one, so we will recover well so that we can have a good finish. We will play without regrets.”
“We’ve been together for about a year and seven months, and we’ve brought out potential in the players that they didn’t even know they had. All the players have improved little by little and proved that they are competitive,” he said, adding, “They haven’t had many opportunities so far, so I hope they will take advantage of the atmosphere and get more opportunities when they go to their home teams.”