After South Korea’s heartbreaking loss in the quarterfinals of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Under-20 World Cup, striker Lee Young-joon (Gimcheon) choked back tears and urged coach Kim Eun-jung to “never give up.
South Korea, led by Kim Eun-jung, lost 1-2 to Italy in the quarterfinals of the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup at the La Plata Stadium in Argentina on Monday (Sept. 9).
Lee Seung-won scored from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute to make it 1-1, but the South Koreans conceded a free kick to Simone Papundi (Udinese) in the 41st minute to fall short.
Korea will now face Israel, who lost 0-1 to Uruguay in the earlier quarterfinal, in the third-place match at 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 12 at the same venue.
Speaking to reporters in the mixed zone after the match, Lee said, “We didn’t bring home the win, but the players fought to the best of their ability. There are no regrets for me or my teammates,” he said, adding, “The players have worked so hard to get to this point, but there is still one game left.”
“We don’t give up. We will prepare well as usual and do our best until the last game 스포츠토토.”
Lee Young-joon, the long striker who is the link in Kim Eun-jung-ho’s attacking scheme, struggled against the most physically imposing Italian defense he has faced so far.
He struggled from the start to win aerial balls, his strong point, and his exhaustion became apparent as time went on.
With fellow striker Park Seung-ho (Incheon) leaving the squad after injuring his ankle in the second group game against Honduras, Lee was left to fight a lonely battle up front until the end of the game.
After battling with the Italian defense, Lee was unable to create any chances and had to watch his team’s elimination.
After swallowing back his disappointment and eventually breaking down in tears, he told the press with reddened eyes, “I felt that the other team were all good players. I felt so sorry for my teammates that I couldn’t score a goal as a striker,” he said.
Lee Young-joon opened the scoring in Korea’s first game of the tournament, a group stage match against France, with a header that set the tone for Kim Eun-jong-ho’s cruise.
In the round of 16 match against Ecuador, he showed that he can score with his feet instead of his head, and made a name for himself with the fans by performing a ‘giant salute’ ceremony that is unique to Gimcheon players.
Lee has scored two goals for Kim Eun Joong Ho in the tournament, but he hasn’t had many opportunities to play in the professional K League yet.
This season, he has appeared in three matches for K League 2 Gimcheon Sangsang and recorded one assist, while last season he played 16 matches for K League 1 Suwon FC, recording one goal and one assist.