Surprise, surprise, the U20 Taeguk Warriors advanced through to the quarterfinals, having drawn with Colombia 1-1 after 120 minutes of their round of 16 match, went scoreless in overtime, then slugged it out on PKs to win 8-7. Instead of an early set piece goal to concede (as they have done all through the group stage), Korea re-wrote the narrative and scored in the 16th minute -on a set piece no less. With the ball loose in the area, Song Ju-Hun quickly turned to fire a shot past Colombia’s surprised keeper. Boom, Korea 1 : Colombia 0. Here’s a video recap of the goal:
Korea had several other chances to go up even further, with Kim Hyun wasting several opportunities. The last gasp of stoppage time, Colombia’s Juan Quintero devestated the Korean side, equalizing on a wicked free kick. In extra time, both sides started to lose steam and it would come to penalty kicks to decide the victor. Nail biting moments for Korea, especially when the hero of regulation time, Song Ju-Hun, saw his PK sail over the crossbar. He stayed at his spot in utter disbelief, frozen and unwilling to move for what seemed like an eternity. Fortunately, Lee Chang-Geun made a brilliant save against Felipe Aguilar to even the score (and save Song’s ass), but we would have to go to nearly midnight in Turkey before Lee Gwang-Hun converted his PK leaving Columbia’s Deivy Balanta to place his kick high and wide. Then it was all over.
Note: It’s not every day you see a goalkeeper take a shot on goal, but that’s what happened as Colombia’s keeper, Cristian Bonilla trotted out to take the second penalty kick. His PK hit the center of the crossbar…and bounced in for the conversion! Was the strategy to demoralize the Korean side? It didn’t seem to faze Lee Chang-Geun, who would stop the very next PK (Aguilar) from going in – a HUGE save that significantly contributed to put Korea eventually over the top.
It was thought that Korea was going in to this round of 16 handicapped, with Moon Chang-Jin out injured (pre-tournament), Park Jung-Bin not released by Wolfsburg/Gruther Furth -and more recently with Ryu Seung-Woo injured in the group match loss with Nigeria. Despite the loss of personel, Korea surprised the analysts to advance past the South American U-19 Champs.
Korea faces Iraq on Sunday July 7th for the quarterfinals. Asia seems to be representing fairly well in the tournament thus far, with Uzbekistan also among the surviving AFC teams in the round of 16. More on the victory later –
got to pick up my son -before it’s too late!!
Also, check out FIFA’s summary of the match here.
Quarterfinals: South Korea will face Iraq on 11am EST Sunday in the US, 12 am Monday in Korea. SBS will broadcast the match in Korea while ESPNU, ESPN3.com will air the match in the US
Late word: a lot of chatter over the interwebs: Though he stepped down in June following the World Cup qualifying loss to Iran, the Korean National team is still suffering blowback from the Choi Kang-hee era of utter mismanagement. There’s reports surfacing on Korean media about in-fighting, now quite public and in the open, with Choi firing shots at Ki Sung-Yeung (Swansea) and more recently Yun Suk-Young (QPR) over their alleged twitter postings critical of Choi. Ki has said his twitter post was not directed at Choi; nevertheless he deleted his twitter account perhaps as a result of the controversy. As for Yun, he was critical over a number of issues, including Choi’s ridiculous theory that Korean players qualities could be differentiated based on their blood type. Whaaaaaat? Oh no he didn’t…what’s he trying to say, that my Type 0 blood is why I’m the slowest player on the pitch? Bullshit! Everyone knows it’s because of that Tavern gin I keep sniftin. Anyway, back to the ‘troversy; the team dynamics is in disarray, which according to another Choi shot – the fault lies with some of the European based players like Ki. Choi alleges that they set up cliques, ate separately from the domestic league players. To which the Tavern owner can only remark: Ki, Koo, ‘Kimbo’, Ji – these players are more bonded through their time on the U-23 Olympic team, not to mention they communicate with each other regularly -they’re on the same continent – similar time zones. Plus, Ji and Koo are on the same club team. In short, they’re friends. Why wouldn’t they sit together at the lunchroom? The same former manager that leveled all these pathetic charges won’t get any sympathy from the Tavern. It’s clear his mismanaged fucktastrophy during his time as KNT boss extended well beyond the pitch – he lost control of his squad, yet another clear sign that the KFA absolutely and completely erred in their choice to manage the squad back in 2011.