After hanging in there… the ‘promised’ victory arrived

Outnumbered, outplayed, and outplayed, they held on. And with one sharp set-piece from deep, they knocked out one powerhouse after another. Kim Eun-Joong-ho’s ‘organisational football’ is once again in the spotlight as South Korea look to reach a second consecutive U-20 World Cup final after winning the title four years ago.

The South Korean U-20 football team, led by Kim Eun-joong, reached the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 with a 1-0 victory over Nigeria after extra-time at the Santiago del Estero Stadium in Argentina on Friday.

Kim and his players have only one tactic for this tournament: the classic ‘defend first, attack later’. With a solid organisational structure, the team focuses on defending first to distract the opposition from attacking, and then, once the ball is won, the speedy second line attackers are able to quickly run at the goal. South Korea won their first group game against powerhouse France 2-1 on the back of sharp counter-attacks despite being outshot 32%-57%, and their round of 16 match against Ecuador was also a 3-2 win despite being outplayed.메이저놀이터

The problem is when the opposition doesn’t have the same defence as Korea. This was the case against Nigeria today. Nigeria didn’t create many chances against South Korea’s tight defence, but they also didn’t raise their defensive line high enough to give South Korea’s strikers much space behind them.

Lee Seung-won’s fourth ‘courier’ on his toes
Organisation Football Preparation Shine the light

It was a set-piece that broke the deadlock. In the fifth minute of the first overtime, Lee Seung-won (Gangwon) sent in a corner from the left, and Choi Seok-hyun (Dankook University) leapt to head home a deflected header for the winner. It was the only shot on target for South Korea, and it was a killer blow.

South Korea have had a lot of fun with set pieces in this tournament. From the group stage to the quarter-finals, they have scored eight goals in five games, with half of them – four – coming from set pieces. All four of those goals came from the toes of captain Lee Seung-won, who has a great kick. Lee’s cleverly placed crosses were met by players in the right place at the right time to head home.

South Korea had a difficult time preparing for this tournament. The venue was changed from Indonesia to Argentina, which made travelling difficult, and most of the main players were out of form due to lack of playing time with their respective clubs, and they were unable to play a proper trial against a team due to time constraints. In this situation, Kim focused on building his players’ organisational skills and worked hard on set-piece preparation, which helped Korea to remain unbeaten in the tournament. The Koreans are the only team in the tournament’s top four to remain unbeaten.

Kim Dae-gil, a commentator for The Korea Times, said: “This team is reminiscent of Greece at Euro 2004. “In the tournament after the group stage, you have to show something in the still images to be able to (hold on) in defence. In that respect, the promised set-pieces looked very good.”

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