“The goal, of course, is to win.”

The 2023 International Football Federation (FIFA) Under-20 (U-20) World Cup opened in Argentina on the 21st. Kim Ji-soo (19, Seongnam FC), the youngest member of the Korean national team, expressed her strong aspirations. Four years ago, at the Polish tournament, Korea won the runner-up, the highest ever result. It is a determination to go one step further beyond that glory.

Kim Ji-soo is a young메이저놀이터 but firm center back who commands the team from the back line. He is already expected to succeed national team senior defender Kim Min-jae (27, Napoli). At 192 cm 73 kg, he has a slightly thinner physique than Kim Min-jae (190 cm 88 kg), but it is evaluated that he has a wide range of defense and outstanding quickness. He debuted in the K-League 1 in May of last year when he was a senior at Poongsaeng High School, setting the record for the youngest ever appearance in the league. He recently drew attention by receiving an official offer from Brentford (9th in the league as of the 21st) of the English Premier League (EPL). Kim Ji-soo said, “I realize the interest that has increased recently,” but said, “I will play without being particularly conscious of the European clubs watching me in this competition.” Former national coach Paulo Bento is also known to actively support him.

Former Jeonbuk Hyundai coach Kim Sang-sik, who took the K-League All-Star baton during the friendly match against Tottenham, said, “When I see Kim Ji-soo, I think of Kim Min-jae.” Regarding this, Kim Ji-soo said, “It’s honorable and excessive,” but “Kim Min-jae uses his speed to overwhelm the opponent at the risk of allowing space in the back, but I’m the style to move in advance and settle down to face the opponent.” As for his strength, he added, “I am confident in instant clearing, and I can respond calmly even in difficult defensive situations because I tend to use both feet well.” As a foreign defender to keep an eye on, Croatia star Joshko Gvardiol (21, RB Leipzig) was picked.

Kim Ji-soo is a year younger than the other national team players. Even so, he said, “It is not difficult because he has a very good affinity and quickly became close with his older brothers.”

In this U-20 national team, there is no superstar player like Lee Kang-in (22) who gave explosive inspiration in the previous tournament. However, it is said that the team organization is more solid. Manager Kim Eun-joong said, “There is a pressure to do as well as the previous tournament, but we will do it with confidence that we can do it enough.”

There are no superstars, but there are plenty of promising youngsters. Kang Seong-jin (20, FC Seoul), who also made a debut in the adult national team, left a strong impression by showing fantastic individual skills in the U-20 Asian Cup match against Jordan, beating 5 defenders from the center line and scoring a goal. Bae Jun-ho (20), who is leading the Daejeon Hana Citizen sensation, Kim Yong-hak (20, Portimonense) who plays in Portugal, and Lee Ji-han (20) in Freiburg, Germany, are also ready to show off their skills. Lee Ji-han threw a vote saying, “There are still many soccer fans who don’t know me, but I will show you everything this time.”

Korea, which belongs to Group F, will play the first match against France at 3:00 am on the 23rd (Korean time). France is a favorite to win this tournament and has an absolute advantage over Korea with 4 wins, 3 draws and 1 loss in the past (U-20). After that, teams worth trying out are waiting for us, such as Honduras (26th) and Gambia (29th). Some point out that it is better to avoid neighboring South American powerhouses, such as Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, the host country, where large-scale polar cheering is expected. Korea will play all three group stage matches at Malvinas Argentinas Stadium in Mendoza, northern Argentina. Local Koreans are planning to support the expedition from Buenos Aires, the capital, to Mendoza, which is about 1,000 km away. It is said that Chilean Koreans close to Mendoza will also join.

In the Group A match on the 21st, the first day of the tournament, the host country, Argentina, won a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Uzbekistan, the 2023 U-20 Asian Cup champions, amid unilateral support from home fans. In the other group A match, New Zealand defeated Guatemala 1-0. In Group B, Slovakia beat Fiji 4-0 and the USA beat Ecuador 1-0 to win their first win.

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