‘Thanks to Japan!

Kim Eun-Joong-ho received the news that South Korea had qualified for the round of 16 at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 ahead of their fateful final group game against the Gambia.

Japan, who are not even in the same group, qualified after coming from behind to beat Israel 2-1 in their Group C match at the Mendoza Stadium in Argentina on Monday (Aug. 28). Japan took the lead through Isa Sakamoto in first-half stoppage time, but with a man down, Israel conceded back-to-back goals from Aaron Roy Nawabi in the 31st minute and Omer Senor in the first minute of stoppage time.

It was Japan’s second consecutive come-from-behind loss against Colombia and dropped them to third place in the group with just one win, two losses and three points, effectively ending their chances of qualifying for the round of 16.

The U-20 World Cup is a 24-team tournament, with the top two teams from each of the six groups and the top four from the third place finishers advancing to the round of 16. Currently, Group B third-place Slovakia and Group C third-place Japan are tied on three points. South Korea, which beat France and drew with Honduras, has four points. Depending on the outcome of the Gambia match, they could drop to third place in the group, but they cannot fall below Slovakia and Japan.

Photo credit: Korea Football Association
For this reason, Kim Eun-Joong-ho has reached the round of 16 for the third consecutive tournament, following the 2017 and 2019 tournaments.

After reaching the round of 16 in 2017, South Korea finished runners-up at the 2019 U-20 World Cup in Poland, their first-ever finals appearance, thanks to the brilliance of their ‘youngest brother’ Lee Kang-in.

South Korea opened the tournament with a 2-1 win over powerhouse France in their first game. In their second game against Honduras, they fought back from two goals down to earn a valuable point. The de facto group leader against Gambia, who are unbeaten in two games, will be played on Sept. 29 in Mendoza. The winner will play the runner-up in Group E. Currently, the favorites are Uruguay (3 points) and Tunisia (3 points). “We will give our best effort against the Gambia,” Kim said.스포츠토토

Meanwhile, Japan’s chances of failing to reach the round of 16 have intensified. With their Group A-D schedule complete, they sit in fourth place out of three teams. The number of round of 16 cases is complicated. Group E’s Uruguay-Tunisia match must end with either a four-point win for Uruguay (3 points) or a five-point win for Tunisia (3 points), while Group F’s Honduras (1 point) and France (0 points) must tie. It’s only when you get down to the fair play points that a miracle is possible. Both the Japan U-20 team and Japanese media have acknowledged that the odds are stacked against them.

Japan has reached the round of 16 in the last two tournaments in a row. They were eliminated in the round of 16 in Poland after losing 0-1 to South Korea.

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