It’s been 20 years in the making.
The South Korea U-20 football team earned three valuable points with a 2-1 victory over France in their opening Group F match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza, Argentina on Wednesday (June 23).
South Korea opened the scoring in the 22nd minute with a fantastic counter-attack by Kang Sung-jin, Kim Yong-hak and Lee Seung-won. Despite the French attacking down the flanks, Korea’s defense held firm and made the most of their one and only chance to take the lead.
In the 64th minute of the second half, they added another goal. As in the first half, France pushed forward and won a free kick. Lee Seung-won placed the ball precisely on the head of Lee Young-joon, who made it 2-0 with a deflected header.
The lenient referee made a decision that went against Korea in the final minutes of the game. Midway through the second half, goalkeeper Kim Jun-hong and France’s Malamine Efekele collided. What looked like a free kick for Korea turned into a penalty kick for France. Kim Jun-hong was even cautioned. He conceded the goal, leaving Korea trailing 2-1. 메이저놀이터
However, South Korea put up a physical defense and denied France the chance to tie the game. Despite the pain, Kim Joon-hong showed great determination, stopping a flurry of French shots to preserve the victory.
This is the first time South Korea has beaten France at the U-20 level. They met in 1997 and 2011, but lost both times. It was also their first win over a European opponent in 20 years, since a 2-0 victory over Germany in 2003.
South Korea has reached the round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals in the past, but they’ve been weak in Europe for a long time. A 4-1 win over Italy in 1981 and a 2-0 win over Germany in 2003 were their last European victories. Today, South Korea claimed their third European victory in the U-20 tournament.
With this win, South Korea overcame France, which was considered the biggest mountain in Group F. They now face Honduras, Gambia, and other teams that are objectively lesser than France. Their chances of advancing beyond the group stage are very good.
At the last tournament four years ago, South Korea accomplished the feat of reaching the final of a FIFA-organized men’s soccer tournament for the first time. The pressure seemed to be on for the subsequent edition of the tournament, but the Baby Tigers ended up roaring loudly as they toppled the Eiffel Tower.