Italy has never made it past Asia at the U-20 level.
The South Korea U-20 National Team will face Italy in the quarterfinals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 at the Estadio Ciudad de La Plata in La Plata, Argentina on Monday (Sept. 9).
South Korea defeated France 2-1 and drew with Honduras (2-2) and Gambia (0-0) before beating Ecuador (3-2) and Nigeria (1-0) in the round of 16 and quarterfinals to reach the last four.
It hasn’t been easy. Injuries, declining fitness, and a tight schedule have plagued Korea. But they have rallied around coach Kim Eun-joong and have shed the stigma of the ‘Valley Generation’ and are now one step away from ‘Again 2019’.
South Korea’s quarterfinal opponent is Italy. They beat Brazil in the ‘Group of Death’ to reach the round of 16 and have now reached the last four for the third time in a row, knocking out the likes of England and Colombia. With 11 goals scored and six conceded in five games, they are a team that is better on offense than defense.
However, Italy is a team that has never had much fun against Asia at the U-20 level. Since their first appearance at the 1977 tournament in Tunisia, the Azzurri have met the Asian nations a total of five times, with three draws and two losses. While the lack of a head-to-head record at the tournament is a factor, the lack of a win against Asia is a good thing for South Korea. 먹튀검증
Starting with a 0-0 draw against Iran in 1977, they lost 1-4 to South Korea in 1981, 1-2 to Syria in 2005, and then faced Japan back-to-back in 2017 and 2019, drawing both games (2-2, 0-0).
In an age group competition, where most of the players change from tournament to tournament, past records don’t mean much. In fact, South Korea’s 4-1 win over Italy was 42 years ago. Choi Soon-ho, the multi-goal scorer, is now the head coach of Suwon FC.
However, the psychological pressure will be a benefit to South Korea. Italy has never won a game against an Asian opponent, something that FIFA has also emphasized. Italy must be aware of this.
South Korea also defeated Italy in the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup round of 16 in extra time, with goals from Seol Ki-hyun and Choi Sung-hwan. North Korea defeated Italy at the 1966 World Cup in England with an early goal from Park Doo Ik. In many ways, Italy has a bad memory of South Korea.
In a tournament with young players, this history and variables can have a big impact. Italy can’t help but notice. Korea, and the Little Taeguk Warriors, deserve to capitalize on that.
It won’t be an easy matchup. But South Korea has overcome all odds to reach the quarterfinals. They have no reason to back down. We can only root for them to fight and win.