Monday Sep 25, 2023

Leading scorer Kasaday Gyung-ryung… attacking duo Lee Young-joon and Bae Jun-ho to match

Can they replicate the 2002 World Cup Round of 16 miracle (win over Italy)? After reaching the quarterfinals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, the national soccer team is on the hunt for Italy. The Italians are strong in numbers. They scored 11 goals in five games, defeated Brazil 3-2 in the group stage (Group D), and defeated Group E’s No. 1 England (2-1) in the round of 16 and Group C’s No. 1 Colombia (3-1) in the quarterfinals. One to watch is midfielder Cesare Cassaday (20-Reading). Formerly with Chelsea in the English Premier League (EPL), he was loaned to Reading in the English second division during the 2022-2023 season, where he made 15 appearances (1 goal) and established himself as a regular. His 6-foot-2 frame and speed make him a difficult player to stop.

Cassaday leads the tournament with six goals. He had a one-man show against Brazil in the group stage with two goals and an assist. Kim Eun-Joong, 44, also cited him as a key figure, saying, “He’s very decisive, like a player who plays for England.” Keep an eye on attacking midfielder Tommaso Baldanchi (20-Empoli), who has scored two goals in the tournament. Striker Simone Papundi (17-Udinese), dubbed the “Italian Messi” and more highly touted than Cassaday prior to the tournament, is unlikely to feature due to a falling out with coach Carmine Nunziata (56).

To counter Italy’s firepower, center backs Kim Ji-soo (19-Seongnam) and Choi Seok-hyun (20-Dankook University) will work together. As expected, Kim Ji-soo has been a steady defensive force in this tournament. Choi Seok-hyun, who has scored the winning goal twice with headers, is not tall at 178 centimeters, but he uses his jumping power and speed to overpower opponents. “I will thoroughly analyze the game footage and try to tie up Cassaday,” Choi said.

Italy hasn’t lived up to its traditional reputation as a ‘stingy defense’ in this tournament, keeping just one clean sheet. Six goals in five games. Against Italy, South Korea plans to use set pieces and quick counterattacks as their main weapons. “It’s important to sharpen the things we’ve already prepared well rather than trying to do something new,” Kim said.

Kim’s ‘secret weapon’ is Bae Joon-ho (20-Daejeon). The 20-year-old, who had a one-goal, one-assist performance in the round of 16 against Ecuador, leading to a 3-2 victory, is less physically demanding after playing less time due to injuries earlier in the tournament. With the team facing a grueling schedule of five games with two or three days off, the relatively fresh Bae Jun-ho could make things easy for the Koreans if he can pierce the Italian defense with his trademark technique. Lee Young-joon (20-Gimcheon Sangmu), a 6-foot-3 striker, is a card that could give Korea an edge in the delivery battle. He has two goals and one assist in the tournament and is in great form. Captain Lee Seung-won (20-Gangwon) leads the team in assists with one goal and four assists. He is on a similar pace to Lee Kang-in (22-Majorca), who won the Golden Ball (tournament MVP) with two goals and four assists at the 2019 tournament in Poland. “I want to prove that I’m a better player than Casadei,” Lee said.

During the seven days of team training, the main players focused on recovering their fitness, stretching and running before heading back to the hotel. The day before they arrived in La Plata for the final, they had a full day of rest. “The players have almost become ‘zombies,’ but they are doing a good job,” Kim said. Kim had watched the group stage match between Italy and Brazil in person in Mendoza on March 22. He wasn’t there to analyze strategy, but to see the best team play at the tournament. “At that time, I never imagined that we would face Italy in the quarterfinals,” Kim said. “Tactics and strategy are important, but from now on, it’s just a matter of which team is more focused, and we can achieve a good result.”안전놀이터

The match against Italy will be played at the Unico Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in La Plata, Argentina, on Sept. 9 at 6 a.m. KST. While many pundits have favored South Korea, Italy lost 0-2 in the group stage to Nigeria, the same team South Korea beat in the quarterfinals. The ball is round.


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