“Don’t give up, show Korea’s strength,” says emotional coach Kim Eun-joong after quarterfinal loss

“It’s a battle of concentration, so I told them that if we don’t give up until the end and show our Korean strength, we can win.”

Kim Eun-joong’s South Korea defeated Nigeria 1-0 in extra time in the quarterfinals of the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup at the Santiago del Estero Stadium in Argentina on Friday (June 5).

With the win, South Korea advanced to their second consecutive quarterfinal after finishing as runners-up at the 2019 tournament in Poland.

Despite being out-shot 32%-46% and outshot 4-22 on the day, the Koreans managed to find the back of the net on their only shot on target to secure the win.

“I want to say thank you to the players,” Kim said in the postgame televised interview, frowning as if he was overcome with emotion after the dramatic victory.

“The players held on well,” he said, adding, “It’s great. I think they are the future of Korean soccer, so I’m very grateful.”

Kim didn’t have high expectations for his team before the tournament.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he had fewer opportunities to gain international experience, and the absence of star players like Lee Seung-woo (Suwon FC) at the 2017 Korea Cup and Lee Kang-in (Mallorca) at the 2019 Poland Cup meant there was less attention on him.

However, they began to gain momentum with a 2-1 victory over ‘favorites’ France in the first round and continued their upward trend, not losing a single game in their three group matches, and attracted the attention of football fans with their ‘quality’.

After a 3-2 win over Ecuador in the Round of 16, Kim’s side made short work of Nigeria to set up a quarterfinal clash.

“Actually, I didn’t have any expectations (for our team) and I was very worried,” Kim said. “The players were upset because they didn’t know much about our players,” he added.

“I’m grateful to the players for following me and the coaching staff,” he said, adding, “It was painful for me to see them not being recognized for their potential.”안전놀이터

“I brought out the potential in them. It’s great,” he said, giving credit to his players for reaching the quarterfinals for the second time in a row.

Kim’s quarterfinal opponent will be Italy.

The semifinals will move to La Plata, Argentina, with a 6 a.m. kickoff on Sept. 9.

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