Ace Bae Joon-ho (Daejeon Hana Citizen) has been revived. The final piece of the puzzle has been put in place to revitalize the physically exhausted Kim Eun-jung-ho.
Kim Eun-joong’s South Korea Under-20 team won 3-2 against Ecuador in the round of 16 of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 on Sunday (Feb. 2) at the Santiago del Estero Stadium in Argentina. It was South Korea’s second consecutive appearance in the quarterfinals of the tournament, following the 2019 edition in Poland, and Kim Eun-Joong-ho saved Asian pride. South Korea is the “only” Asian team in the quarterfinals. Japan and Iraq were eliminated in the group stage. Uzbekistan packed up in the round of 16.
Bae Jun-ho, who started the game, led his team to victory with a goal and an assist. He assisted Lee Young-joon (Gimcheon Commerce) with a sharp cross in the 11th minute. After warming up his toes, Bae Jun-ho scored the team’s second goal himself in the 19th minute. He caught Park Chang-woo’s cross from the right flank and subtly tricked the defense inside the penalty area. He completed the scoring with a sensational right-footed finish. As FIFA wrote on its official website, “Bae Jun-ho led South Korea to the quarterfinals with an outstanding performance.
It was the goal Kim Eun-jung-ho had been waiting for. Bae Jun-ho was considered the ace of the tournament. He is a ‘multi-player’ who can play as an attacking midfielder and a flanker. His strengths include dribbling, ball possession, and breaking pressure. He was praised for his playmaking as well as his ability to attack directly.
Bae Jun-ho has also had positive performances for his club. He made his professional debut in a Daejeon jersey through free agency last year. He gained experience by playing eight games in the K League 2 (second division), two in the promotion playoffs, and one in the K4 League for Daejeon’s B team. He played a key role in the team’s promotion to the K League 1 this season. He has already played seven games in the Hana OneQ K League 1 2023. He was the only member of the national team to play at the first team level in the K League 1 and was highly anticipated before the tournament.
The lid was lifted. Bae Jun-ho had to sit out the first group game against France due to a thigh adductor problem. He started the second game against Honduras, but didn’t make much of an impact. He came on as a second-half substitute in the final match against Gambia, where the team had already qualified for the round of 16 and the rotation was set in motion. He gradually improved his form and showed his talent when it mattered most. After scoring one goal and one assist on the day, he was replaced by Cho Young-kwang in the 37th minute and went to the bench. “I played with the idea of playing hard rather than trying to be good, which led to a good result,” said Bae, who revealed his ‘killer instinct’.
South Korea will play Nigeria in the quarterfinals at 2:30 a.m. on Friday. It will be another match in just three days. South Korea has already played 스포츠토토 four games in 11 days, starting with the first game against France on March 23. Some players showed signs of fatigue in that game. Lee Young-joon, the only “authentic striker,” has been playing virtually full time. “I don’t think there is a next time,” said Kim. We will give everything to Nigeria. They had one more day off than us, so we will focus on recovery and prepare for the quarterfinals,” Kim said.
Bae smiles broadly at the prospect of physical exhaustion. One can expect positive energy from South Korea. “No matter who our opponent is, we will try to prepare as well as we have done so far and show a good performance,” he vowed.