The delightful rebellion of the unexpected ‘valley generation’…we can’t wait to see them grow up

Kim Eun-joong-ho was not expected to do much, but he exceeded expectations and provided a glimpse into the bright future of South Korean soccer.

Led by Kim Eun-joong, 44, the South Korean U-20 team lost 1-3 to Israel at 2:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday at the Estadio Unico Diego Armando 안전놀이터 Maradona in La Plata, Argentina, in the third- and fourth-place matches of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023.

This tournament has been dubbed the “Valley Generation” for South Korea. However, the team came together as a unit to create a semifinal myth and finish the tournament in fourth place out of 24 participating nations.

Kim Eun-jung-ho didn’t have high expectations before the tournament. They didn’t have a clear star player.

But the tournament turned out to be a star-making experience for South Korea. From “hexagonal striker” Lee Young-joon, who opened the tournament with the game-winning goal against France, to Bae Joon-ho, who had a one-goal, one-assist performance against Ecuador, to “captain” Lee Seung-won, who created four assists from corner kicks and scored three goals, totaling seven offensive points, to defender Choi Seok-hyun, who scored the game-winning goal with his head in two consecutive games.

Kim’s fourth-place finish is the third fourth-place finish in FIFA-organized tournaments in South Korea’s men’s soccer history. South Korea previously finished fourth at the 1983 U-20 World Cup in Mexico and the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup.

South Korea had several bright spots in the tournament. In the round of 16, Lee Young-joon’s “K-Berkamp” touch and decisiveness, coupled with his ability to find the back of the net from set pieces, earned him the captain’s armband and led Korea to the semifinals. In addition, Dankook University defender Choi Seok-hyun excelled on both sides of the ball, despite his small stature of 178 centimeters.

In addition, Bae Jun-ho, who has been playing in the No. 10 role behind “senior No. 10” Lee Kang-in, has been recognized by FIFA for his creativity and unpredictability, which has been a key part of the Taeguk Warriors’ challenge. “Whenever he gets the ball, Korean fans scream and opponents panic,” he said.

A group of unheralded players have come together to create a Top 4 myth. Most of the players have yet to experience the professional stage. It will be interesting to see how they develop in the future after gaining confidence through this tournament.

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