A very winnable match lost in the most unfortunate circumstances. Kudos to our boys for making it to the semis. We proved ourselves as perennial favorites in the U20 age group. On a different day, today could’ve been a W for us but alas, our dreams of making two finals in a row are extinguished, and now we look forward to a fun 3rd place match vs Israel, another team that really impressed this tournament.
Admittedly I am still at work right now, and the middle hour of the game (from 30′ to 60′ min) I was in a meeting and could only throw glances at the game. A more detailed roundup incoming later, but for now I will throw up my gut reactions.
Lee Young Jun will be a big talking point after this game. Very frustrating tourney from our tall Sangmu man who slowed down every single counterattack we got and towards the end, right before Italy’s winning FK, skied a WIDE open chance. We had several good chances the latter half of the second, and genuinely looked like we would break the deadlock first. We paid for not only our profligacy in front of goal, but also having a slow FW who can’t shoot, can’t pass, and slows the game down. Admittedly though, he played every single match since the Gambia match, so he probably went into this game more gassed than anyone else on the pitch. Many of the games prior to this one he was the only one up front to press and run while our remaining players sat back in a 10-men behind the ball formation. Also, he was devastated more than anyone else after the match was over – aware of his numerous missed chances, he was in tears and could barely complete the interview in the mixed zone.
Bae Jun Ho on the other hand really established himself as the offensive star of this side alongside CB Kim Ji Soo. He was a menace all game and even the opposition coach praised his exploits in the post-match press conference. I’ve read Korean news outlets claiming that Klinsmann wanted to call up Bae Jun Ho but the U20 team lasted longer in the tournament than expected, so he couldn’t. Kim Ji Soo is looking very close to a move to Europe, and I’d bet that if anyone on this team was going to be next it’d be either Bae Jun Ho or maybe Choi Seok Hyun.
A reckless and frankly unnecessary challenge from Park Hyun Bin right in front of the PK box sealed our fate. We had defenders in front of the guy with the ball – was a slide tackle necessary? I immediately had a sinking feeling this one might go in. Ahn Jung Hwan predicted they would score as well. So unnecessary.
Speaking of unnecessary, the first goal too – do we not know how to clear a ball? We also completely left Italy’s best player and top scorer of the tournament Cesare Casadei unmarked at the edge of the box. Can’t be doing that…
Kim Jun Hong our goalkeeper has had some good moments this tournament and was solid overall today with some good saves but… what was he doing both those goals? He stood wayyy too far out on his right (Italy’s left) for the free kick. Similarly terrible positioning for the first goal. No wonder all he could do was score as the ball went into the back of the neck.
This team really does have an incredible defense. We never gave away any dangerous chances and blocked most that came our way.
Really sad that we got less time to rest than pretty much opponent so far. Also sad that we were stuck with one striker all tournament after the injury to our only other FW Park Seung Ho. Really sucks that FIFA won’t let you call up a replacement.
If we lost against Israel in the semis, I wouldn’t be mad, but it just had to be against a team that committed 26 fouls and were constantly grabbing and elbowing our players. They appealed, moaned/groaned, and made hand gestures (sorry for invoking a stereotype but it’s so true) at EVERY single call that didn’t go their way. And they only got 3 yellow cards for it. Very unprofessional. I’m not one to always root for the team that knocked us out (if it was Nigeria I wouldn’t be mad at them) but I am strongly hoping Uruguay wins this one.
The important calls were actually objectively fair for once, but I have gripes about the fouls above as well as what happened at the end. In the dying minutes of extra time their player pushed ours with his hands and he fell down – and somehow that wasn’t a foul. But the EXACT SAME MOTION was committed by one of our players against one of theirs. And somehow that was a foul. Obviously they took the time to embellish it on the ground.
Speaking of refs.. can someone please make a video compilation of all the BS calls that went against us?
More to follow…