The best and the worst were avoided. However, preparation is still not easy.
Kim Eun-joong, 메이저놀이터who will participate in the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina, received a relatively easy grouping. Little Taegeuk Warriors were tied in Group F with France, Gambia and Honduras in the group draw held in Zurich, Switzerland on the 21st (hereinafter Korean time). Korea, which took second place with Lee Kang-in (Mallorca) at the 2019 tournament held in Poland, was assigned to pot 2 in the pot organization based on the results of the previous five tournaments. Avoided Brazil and England.
The best expected was the United States (Port 1), Fiji (Port 2) and the Dominican Republic (Port 4), and the worst was to belong with Argentina (Port 1), Nigeria (Port 3) and Israel (Port 4).
According to the continental allocation principle, Korea has a 67% chance of being in a group with Argentina or Uruguay in pot 1. However, Korea avoided Argentina, the host country, and Uruguay, which are adjacent to it, and joined France in a group. Of course, France is not an easy opponent. France reached the semifinals at the 2022 UEFA U-19 Championship. Although they suffered a 1-2 shock defeat to Israel in the semifinals, they passed the group stage perfectly with a complete victory. Got Italy too. Rennes striker Roum Chauna was the top scorer of the tournament with four goals. Even in the past record, they are absolutely inferior with 1 win, 3 draws and 4 losses. However, from Kim Eun-joong’s point of view, it is a fortunate result to avoid the fierce cheering of Argentine and Uruguay fans. Moreover, this match is the first leg.
Honduras, the opponent in the second game, is the most certain one-win victim. Honduras reached the semifinals at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, but is ahead with two wins in the past. In terms of style, he is the most worthy opponent. The Gambia is an ambush. They finished runner-up at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) U-20 Nations Cup. Although they are ahead with one win in their opponents, in the U-20 World Cup, the African continental team, which is physically strong, is always difficult.
For Kim Eun-joong, getting points in the first match against France and winning against Honduras is the most certain scenario for the round of 16. If you leave the number of cases until the last game in Gambia, you can’t help but feel burdened. Coach Kim, who was grouped, said, “All the teams that advanced to the World Cup are not easy opponents. I think I need to prepare well from now on. The first goal is to advance to the tournament (Round of 16). If I go to the tournament, there will be no strong or weak teams on that day. It will be a battle of condition, preparation and atmosphere.”
The problem is that it is still dark. The U-20 World Cup was originally scheduled to be held in Indonesia. However, as anti-Israel public opinion intensified in this Islamic country, FIFA revoked Indonesia’s hosting rights last month, and Argentina became the new host. The schedule remains unchanged from May 20th to June 11th. The schedule was also twisted due to the sudden change of venue. Originally, coach Kim was scheduled to go to Argentina to visit the field after completing the mini-call from the 24th to the 26th. However, he received a reply that he could not go on the field trip due to local circumstances. He was able to check the local situation only after entering Argentina on a regular basis. It’s a pity that thorough preparation is essential from the ‘underdog’ position of Korea.The convocation is also not smooth. It is possible to convene the last two weeks before the tournament, but due to the K-League schedule, it may be possible to convene the entire group only on the 7th, when they leave for the country. It is also a concern that European players are not in good shape due to injuries. Moreover, in this competition, the entry is only 21 people, not 26, which has been common since the era of Corona 19, so it is impossible to envision an adventurous entry. Coach Kim said, “I don’t have much time. I have to go to Argentina and thoroughly organize the team and prepare various things.”