Kim Eun-jung’s calm management of the U-20 national team can be credited with the team’s progression to the quarterfinals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023.
The U-20s defeated Nigeria 1-0 in extra time in the quarterfinals of the tournament at the Santiago del Estero Stadium in Argentina on Friday morning (June 5).
The victory was even more valuable because it came against a physical disadvantage.
Nigeria played their round of 16 match on the first day, while South Korea played their round of 16 match on the second day. Playing with one less day’s rest gave the Koreans less time to recover, and it was evident from the way they lay on the ground in overtime that they were significantly less fit than their Nigerian counterparts.
Nevertheless, Korea was not far behind Nigeria in terms of performance. Kim responded by making substitutions to stabilize his players’ fitness.
He assigned Kang Sung-jin and Bae Joon-ho to lead the offense in the first and second halves, respectively. When Kim Yong-hak showed signs of fatigue midway through the second half, Lee Ji-han came on. When Kim Ji-soo, a central defender and the core of the defense, showed signs of illness, Kim made a bold decision to substitute Hwang In-taek.스포츠토토
Prior to this match, Kim focused on improving his team’s fitness. He made seven changes to his starting lineup against Gambia in the third round of the group stage, and against Ecuador in the round of 16, he took off key players Lee Seung-won and Kim Yong-hak midway through the second half.
The upcoming quarterfinal against Italy on Sept. 9 will also be a physical challenge. The Italians, who played their quarterfinal match on April 4, will be playing in five days, while Korea will only have four days off.
For Kim, who has been exposed to unfavorable conditions repeatedly, the rest period will be crucial for him to regain his fitness for the quarterfinals.