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Favorites extinguished… Round of 16 lights up

South Korea’s bid to reach the quarterfinals of the Under-20 World Cup for the second straight tournament got off to a fast start with a win over powerhouse France. France, the 2013 U-20 World Cup champions, are one of the favorites to win this year’s tournament. South Korea finished runner-up in the last edition in 2019.

The South Korean national team, coached by Kim Eun-joong, won 2-1 against France in their first Group F match at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 at the Mendoza Stadium in Argentina on June 23. Ahead of the match, most sports betting sites had South Korea as an underdog (a team with a relatively low chance of winning).

However, South Korea won their first group game thanks to a goal from Lee Seung-won in the 22nd minute of the first half and a goal from Lee Young-joon in the 19th minute of the second half. Lee finished with a goal and an assist, including a free-kick assist on Lee’s header. South Korea conceded a penalty kick goal to France in the 25th minute of the second half.

“The goals by Lee Seung-won and Lee Young-joon show that South Korea has enough power to beat France,” FIFA said on its website after the match. This is the first time South Korea has beaten France at the U-20 World Cup. They lost 2-4 in 1997 and 1-3 in 2011. After the game, Kim said, “France was the favorite to win the tournament, so we prepared for a defensive and counterattack tactic,” adding, “We blocked France’s strong attack with good defense. I am satisfied that the players played as a team and knew what to do on the field.”

Lee Seung-won, who played a key role in Korea’s victory, described his role ahead of the tournament as “playing to my teammates’ strengths and supporting them behind the scenes.” However, Lee scored a goal and added an assist in the win over France. “I’m aiming for at least the top four in this tournament. The U-20 World Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime event, so I hope I can play without regrets and have good results,” said Lee.

Having never been selected for the U17 national team, Lee was the first player to be named to the age-group squad by Kim. Upon his selection, Kim pinned the captain’s armband on his arm. In his first game with the national team, against Indonesia in March of last year, Lee captained the team and even scored a goal. Kim Tae-min, head coach of the U-20 national team, said of Lee, “He has excellent individual skills and mobility. He can keep the ball and has good link-up skills.”

Lee Young-joon, who scored South Korea’s second goal, 토토사이트 is a striker with a strong physique at 190 centimeters tall and 83 kilograms. “I’ve been training a lot on set pieces and it feels good to score (from a free kick),” he said. “He has good physicality, so he has the potential to explode once he gets going,” Kim said.

With three points, South Korea is tied for first place in Group F with Gambia, which defeated Honduras 2-1 earlier in the day. The 24-nation tournament features four teams divided into six groups. The 12 first- and second-place teams in each group and the four best third-place teams will advance to the round of 16. The round of 16 will be a single-elimination tournament. South Korea will face Honduras in the second round at 6 a.m. on June 26.


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