First undefeated group stage… face Ecuador in the Round of 16

South Korea played a goalless draw with Gambia in their final group game at the U-20 World Cup. They finished second in the group and will face Ecuador in the Round of 16. It will be the second consecutive tournament meeting with Ecuador after a previous encounter in 2019. They met in the quarterfinals, where Choi Joon (24, Busan) scored a 1-0 victory off a pass from Lee Kang-in (22, Mallorca) to set up the myth of Korea reaching the final.

South Korea held Gambia to a 0-0 draw in their third Group F match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 at the Malvinas Argentinas Stadium in Mendoza, Argentina on Sept. 29 (KST). Both teams, who had already qualified for the round of 16 prior to the match, fielded a number of players who did not start in the first two games. Kim Eun-joong, 44, made seven changes to his starting lineup from the second match against Honduras, including starting three defenders for the first time in Cho Young-kwang (19-Seoul), Hwang In-taek (20-Seoul Island), and Choi Ye-hoon (20-Busan). The Gambia also started Mamin Hunt (20-Bayern Munich) off the bench.

With a focus on conserving strength and managing injuries, both teams played at a slow tempo and ended the game scoreless. With starting goalkeeper Kim Jun-hong (20-Gimcheon Commerce) unavailable due to accumulated cautions, Moon Hyun-ho (20-Chungnam Asan) put on the goalkeeping gloves and made several crucial saves to keep the game scoreless. “It’s the first time we’ve put together a defensive combination in practice, but luckily we worked well together and finished without conceding a goal,” said central defender Kim Ji-soo (19-Seongnam), who started for the third consecutive game.

Although South Korea came away with a point, the game was a success in many ways, including resting the main players, keeping the younger players on the field, and trying out new combinations. “The players who didn’t play in the first and second games did well in the third game, giving us more time to plan for the upcoming tournament,” said Kim. South Korea, who finished second in the group (1 W, 2 D, 5 P) behind Gambia (2 W, 1 D, 7 P), advanced to the round of 16 for the first time in tournament history without losing a game in the group stage.

Their next opponent will be Group B runner-up Ecuador on June 2 at 6 a.m. in Santiago del Estero. Ecuador has a 2-1 record in the group stage and is the tournament’s top scorer with 11 goals. However, nine of those goals came against Fiji,메이저놀이터 one of the weakest teams in the tournament, and they scored just two goals in their other two games. He plays an individualized style of soccer. In the all-time series between the South Korean and Ecuadorian U-20 teams, South Korea leads 3-1.

If South Korea defeats Ecuador to advance to the quarterfinals, they will face the winner of the Round of 16 match between host Argentina and Nigeria. The pressure will be on for Argentina, the reigning champions, who will be looking for their seventh podium finish in front of a raucous home crowd. African powerhouse Nigeria is no slouch either. “Rather than thinking beyond the round of 16, we will put everything into the round of 16,” Kim said.

Japan, which finished 1-2-2 (goal difference -1) in Group C, was eliminated after failing to finish in the top four of the six teams in each group. It is the first time in 22 years that Japan has been eliminated in the group stage of a U-20 World Cup since the 2001 tournament.

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