The South Korean Under-20 football team, led by head coach Kim Eun-joong, 44, got off to a strong start at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023. From their first game, they faced a tough test against European powerhouse France, but they pulled off an upset. The team, which finished as runners-up at the 2019 tournament in Poland with ‘Golden Boy’ Lee Kang-in (Mallorca), started the journey to make history four years later in Argentina with a bang.

The team defeated France 2-1 in the first match of the tournament’s Group F at the Mendoza Stadium in Argentina on March 23. South Korea is now tied atop Group F with Gambia, who beat Honduras 2-1 earlier in the day. The 24-team tournament is divided into six groups of four nations, with the first and second place finishers in each group, as well as the third place finishers (four out of six) qualifying for the round of 16. With a win over France, the tournament’s “favorite,” South Korea has improved its chances of advancing to the round of 16 by topping its group. The team will face Honduras in its second group game on June 26.

This is the first time South Korea has defeated the French giants at the U-20 World Cup in two or three tournaments. The team had previously lost to France in the group stage of the U-20 stage in both 1997 and 2011.

France dominated possession on the day, winning 메이저사이트 57% of the ball. However, South Korea showed off their ‘silly soccer’. They nullified France’s attack with a sticky defense, attacked the opponent’s backline with counterattacks, and showed great concentration to convert crucial chances.

Spearheading the attack was ‘Captain’ Lee Seung-won (Gangwon), who finished with one goal and one assist. The first goal came in the 22nd minute. On a counterattack, Kim Yong-hak took the ball from Kang Sung-jin, stripped his opponent, broke through the midfield, and slipped a precise pass to Lee Seung-won, who was rushing into the box. Faced with a one-on-one situation with the keeper, Lee remained calm and rattled the left side of the net. It was a perfect counterattack, completed in just 12 seconds with only two connections in our own half.

Lee Seung-won then provided an assist in the 19th minute, as his free-kick cross from the left was finished by Lee Young-joon (Gimcheon) with a deflected header to give Korea a 2-0 lead.

However, in the 25th minute of the second half, the Koreans conceded a goal after a questionable penalty kick decision by the referee. Goalkeeper Kim Jun-hong (Gimcheon), who was trying to punch away an opponent’s cross, was knocked down by the shoulder of an onrushing attacker, which the referee ruled as a foul on Kim Jun-hong. The ball went out of his hands, and he was hit in the face, but the referee made a difficult decision to award a penalty kick.

However, Kim was shown a yellow card and France were awarded a penalty kick. Despite the call, the Korean National Team held off the French offense until the end. The defense also shined, including Kim Jun-hong, who did not concede a field goal, and Kim Ji-soo (Seongnam), who played a physical defense.

After the game, Lee Seung-won said, “I will only enjoy the joy of victory until today. We will prepare well for the remaining matches against Honduras and Gambia in our colors and try to show a good performance.” “Defensively, we prepared for a counterattack, and the players responded well,” said Kim Eun-joong, “We were able to win because the 11 players played well and organized.”

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