The win over France was a disappointment. Honduras needs to erase jitters.
The South Korea Under-20 football team, led by head coach Kim Eun-joong, defeated France 2-1 in their first match of Group F at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023 at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza, Argentina, at 3:00 a.m. ET on Sunday. With the win, South Korea moved to the top of the group.
South Korea took the lead through a goal from Lee Seung-won. In the 22nd minute of the first half, Kang Sung-jin and Kim Yong-hak combined on a counterattack, with Lee finishing off a pass. South Korea did not concede a goal despite losing possession to France. In the 19th minute of the second half, Lee Young-joon headed home a free kick from Lee Seung-won. In the 21st minute of the second half, France conceded a penalty kick (PK) due to a questionable call, but Kim Jun-hong saved the game and the match ended with a 2-1 victory for Korea. 안전놀이터
The result was good, the performance was good, but the midfield was shaky. Coach Kim Eun-joong used a 4-4-2 formation with Kang Sang-yoon up front and Lee Seung-won and Lee Chan-wook in the middle. Lee Chan-wook is a center back who plays for Gyeongnam FC. He is 6-foot-2 and has great physical ability and good passing skills. Kim Eun-joong deployed Lee as a defensive midfielder, tasked with shutting down the French attack early.
It was also a choice that would allow Lee Seung-won to move more freely into the attack. Lee Chan-wook, however, was shaky. He missed a lot of passes and his positioning was poor. At times, he looked out of control when the French players came up the field. Eventually, Lee was subbed off at the start of the second half. He was replaced by Incheon United prospect Park Hyun-bin.
Park is known for his aggressive style, but on this day, he took over Lee’s duties. Park wasn’t satisfied either. As the French attack intensified in the second half, Kang Sang-yoon came down to the midfield to support. Choi Seok-hyun’s physical defense and Kim Jun-hong’s brilliant saves helped Korea hold on for the win, but the midfield instability continued throughout the game.
It needs to be addressed in the remaining two games. Kim Eun-joong’s team plays a fast-transitioning style of soccer that involves crouching down and getting up quickly to counter-attack, but without stabilizing the midfield, the quality of the play suffers greatly. They may not be able to utilize Lee Seung-won, who is in good form. The team could trust one of Lee Chan-wook or Park Hyun-bin once again, but for now, Kang Sang-yoon is the best option in the defensive midfield.
Kang Sang-yoon is the kind of all-around midfielder that Jeonbuk Hyundai is looking for. He is a versatile player who can play all over the midfield and has proven himself at various levels of the national team, including Jeonbuk. At the U-20 Asian Cup, he showed off his skills as a defensive midfielder. While his offensive talents may be underutilized, Kang Sang-yoon’s presence in the defensive midfield will definitely stabilize the midfield in the current situation.