Kim Eun-joong’s ‘No. 1’ goalkeeper Kim Jun-hong recalls his favorite moment of the tournament.
The South Korea U-20 soccer team, led by head coach Kim Eun-jung, arrived at Incheon International Airport on Thursday afternoon. The team recently finished fourth at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 in Argentina.안전놀이터
The U-20 team hasn’t received much attention in the past. Leading up to the tournament, they were dubbed the ‘Valley Generation’. However, the team has been slowly building up around head coach Kim Eun-joong, and he was a revelation from the first game of the group stage against France.
After a 2-1 victory over the French, who were considered the favorites, South Korea drew with Honduras (2-2) and Gambia (0-0) to advance to the round of 16. The flow continued. South Korea defeated Ecuador and Nigeria in back-to-back games to reach the quarterfinals. Although they fell short of the final to Italy, it was their second consecutive semifinal appearance. They finished in fourth place.
The players, who hadn’t received much attention before the tournament, returned home as heroes. On the day of the tournament, the U-20 team was welcomed home at Incheon Airport Transportation Center 2. Many fans gathered to cheer and encourage the players.
Coach Kim Eun-joong said, “Before the tournament, the players did not receive much attention. But this tournament proved it. I also saw the players’ infinite potential. I hope they will grow a lot for the future of Korean soccer. There are many things I would like to say, but I don’t think I can say anything better than thank you,” he concluded.
Next, the individual players were interviewed, with goalkeeper Kim Jun-hong taking the microphone first. Kim Jun-hong was the starting goalkeeper for the tournament. He played a total of six games, excluding the Gambia game where he was suspended due to accumulated cautions.
Kim was asked to share his favorite saves and most nerve-wracking moments of the tournament. “In the first game against France, I remember stopping (Park) Hyun Bin-yi’s header, which was the most threatening shot,” he laughed.
It happened in the fifth minute of the second half with South Korea leading 1-0. Park tried to clear a cross from the left by an opponent, but the ball was headed towards the goal. Goalkeeper Kim Jun-hong threw his body to save it. “The dizzying moment was also the moment when I blocked Hyun-bin Lee’s shot,” Kim Jun-hong said.
Kim Jun-hong, who was solid in goal as Kim Eun-jung-ho finished fourth in the tournament, will now return to his former club, Gimcheon Commerce. The goalkeeper originally played for Jeonbuk Hyundai before joining Gimcheon for military service this year. He has yet to play a K League 2 match this season. Now that he’s proven himself in this competition, he’s ready to take on the challenge.