Reporter Yoon Hyo-yong= Kim Eun-joong’s practical soccer paid off against ‘powerhouse’ France.
South Korea’s Kim Eun-Joong defeated France 2-1 in the first match of Group F of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 at the Mendoza Stadium in Argentina at 3 a.m. (KST). South Korea moved into first place in the group.
France, the ‘best’ team in the group, is one of the favorites to win the tournament. They were drawn as Port 1 in the draw and are the only team in Group F to have won the U20 World Cup (2013). South Korea is one of the only teams in Group F that is completely outmatched. South Korea has one win, three draws, and four losses in eight games against the French U20 team.
Head coach Kim Eun-joong was realistic. He deployed Kim Yong-hak and Kang Sung-jin on the flanks in a 3-4-3 formation, looking to counter-attack. Lee Young-joon, who has good height, was placed up front to provide service. In defense, they dropped to a five-back defense.
From the beginning of the game, Korea gave France the lead, but there was no major crisis. Instead, they capitalized on a counterattack opportunity and scored the first goal. In the 23rd minute, after France blocked a corner kick, Kim Yong-hak sprinted down the left side of the field and launched a counterattack. Kim Yong-hak peeled off one defender, crossed the halfway line, and saw Lee Seung-won penetrating from the other side. After getting close to the penalty area, Lee fired a precise right-footed shot into the back of the net.
South Korea went into halftime with a one-goal lead. They hunkered down early in the second half in anticipation of the French offense. In the 18th minute of the second half, South Korea won a free kick on the left side of the opponent’s box and Lee Seung-won headed it back to Lee Young-joon. The shot was headed into the corner where goalkeeper Ro Tutala could not react.
In the 23rd minute of the second half, a penalty kick was awarded, but it was not enough. Kim Jun-hong collided with opposing striker Malamin Efekele, but the referee instead warned Kim Jun-hong for a foul. The penalty kick was converted by Alan Birginius. 안전놀이터
Kim Eun-joong took off Kang Sung-jin and brought on Choi Ye-hoon in the 29th minute to increase the number of defenders. This was in preparation for France’s all-out attack in the final minutes. In the end, Kim Joon-hong’s saves and physical defense were enough to preserve the one-goal lead in the remaining time.
Kim Joong-ho was disappointing in defense at the last U20 Asian Cup, which was played as a World Cup qualifier. Even against relatively weak opponents, the defense was shaky, but the team did a good job of shoring up its weaknesses ahead of the tournament and was able to catch the big fish, France. France fired 23 shots on the day, but only six were on target. Outside of penalty kicks, there were virtually no decisive scoring chances.