Coach Kim Eun-joong on defeating ‘favorite’ France: “We’re all together… All 21 players are honored”

“The defense stayed focused and didn’t concede a goal.”

That’s what South Korea’s U-20 national soccer team head coach Kim Eun-joong said after the team’s win over “big fish” France.

The South Korean U-20 team, led by Kim Eun-joong, defeated France 2-1 at the Mendoza Stadium in Mendoza, Argentina, at 3 a.m. ET on Wednesday in their first Group F match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023.

With a clean sweep into the round of 16, South Korea will face Honduras in the second leg on Sept. 26 and Gambia in the final group game on Sept. 29. South Korea is determined to repeat its 2019 runner-up finish at the tournament. The 2021 edition of the tournament was canceled due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lee Seung-won, who had one goal and one assist on the day, shined with his ability to capitalize on counterattack chances and his kicking ability. In the 22nd minute of the first half, Kang Sung-jin picked up a loose ball in the midst of a French corner, passed it to Kim Yong-hak, who was running down the left flank, and finally, Lee Seung-won, who was running into the box together, took possession of the ball and split the French goal with a low, quick shot.

Korea added a second goal. In the 19th minute of the second half, Lee Young-joon scored a header from a free kick. The player who sent the ball up was Lee Seung-won, the man who scored the first goal.

With a two-goal lead, South Korea suffered a setback. In the 21st minute of the second half, goalkeeper Kim Jun-hong and “substitute” Efekeler went down in a ball contest. Kim was hit in the face by an opponent’s shoulder and remained on the ground for a while, complaining of pain, but the referee gave him a warning and awarded a penalty kick to France.

Before Kim could fully recover, South Korea conceded a penalty corner to kicker Birginius. But it didn’t change the outcome. South Korea defended their one-goal lead well to secure a comfortable victory.

After the game, head coach Kim Eun-joong told the Korea Football Association, “France was the favorite, so we prepared with a defensive strategy and a counting attack. The players followed the tactics well,” he said, adding, “France attacked strongly at the end, but our defense remained focused and did not concede a goal. I’m grateful for that.” 안전놀이터

“There are some players who played their best and some who did not. All 21 players deserve credit today. Everyone played together and knew what they had to do. I think the next two games will not be easy. We will play well.”

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