Kim Eun Joong-ho had to fight a 12th enemy throughout the tournament.
The South Korea U-20 national soccer team, led by head coach Kim Eun-Joong, lost 1-2 to Italy in the semifinals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 at the Estadio Ciudad de la Plata in La Plata, Argentina, at 6 a.m. on Monday. With the loss, Kim Eun-Joong-ho’s side ended their journey in the quarterfinals.
South Korea lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Lee Young-joon, Bae Jun-ho, Lee Seung-won, Kim Yong-hak, Kang Sang-yoon, Park Hyun-bin, Choi Ye-hoon, Choi Seok-hyun, Kim Ji-soo, and Cho Young-kwang started. Kim Jun-hong was in goal.
With different rest periods, the energy levels of the two teams were bound to be different. South Korea played Nigeria in the quarterfinals on the fifth, while Italy played Colombia in the quarterfinals a day earlier on the fourth. In addition, Italy had played a full 90 minutes, while South Korea was coming off a hard-fought game that went into overtime. The difference in the physical demands on Italy and South Korea was obvious.
Italy came out firing from the start and eventually scored the first goal. In the 14th minute, Cesare Cassaday slid in a quick cross from the left flank to rattle the Korean net.
However, South Korea did not go down easily. In the 19th minute, Bae Jun-ho was fouled in the box and a penalty kick was awarded. Lee Seung-won stepped up to take the spot kick and calmly slotted home the equalizer.
The match continued to be intense. Italy played rough against Korea. Elbows were used to contest aerial balls, and Korean players were often seen slapping their faces with their hands. However, the referee didn’t blow the whistle as often as he should have.
The game continued in the second half. Korea conceded a late free kick to Italy, who took the lead and continued to commit rough fouls and 먹튀검증 stalling behavior. The referee also refused to blow his whistle. In the end, the game ended in a loss for South Korea. It was a one-point loss.
This wasn’t the only game where the referee’s decisions were questionable. In the first match of the tournament, against France, Kim Jun-hong collided with an opponent, but the video assistant referee (VAR) awarded a penalty kick to France. Luckily, South Korea was able to protect their one-point lead and win.
The quarterfinals were no different. The officiating in the quarterfinals against Nigeria was even worse. Nigerian players jumped on Korean players’ shoulders to win aerial balls, or stopped Korean players from dribbling through rough tackles and fouls. However, few fouls were called on Korea, and in some cases, Nigeria was awarded a free kick for committing a foul. It was unfair.
In both the quarterfinals and the semifinals, Korea was plagued by questionable refereeing decisions, but Kim Jung-ho overcame them to reach the quarterfinals for the second consecutive tournament. In the final match, against Italy, he played with more physical strain than his opponent, but he still managed to impress the fans by fighting to the end. Although Kim’s journey ended in the quarterfinals, her performance at the tournament will be remembered for years to come.