Byun Sung cheers as Korea loses second straight U-17 World Cup

South Korea’s U-17 men’s soccer team couldn’t get past ‘powerhouse’ France. The red light is on for the round of 16.

The U-17 team, led by Byun Sung-hwan, lost 0-1 to “European powerhouse” France in their second Group E match of the tournament at the International Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, at 9 p.m. KST on Friday. It was a case of ‘lost but fought well’. Against the global powerhouse, South Korea showed off their offensive prowess. But the goals just weren’t coming.

It was South Korea’s second straight loss in the tournament. They lost 1-3 against the United States in their first group game on Dec. 12. They needed to beat France to advance to the round of 16, but they came up short. France and the United States have now won two straight games (6 points), while South Korea and Burkina Faso have lost two straight.

South Korea will face Burkina Faso, the “African dark horse,” in the third match on April 18. South Korea is in third place in the group. They need to win big against Burkina Faso and see how the other three teams in the group fare.

There were 24 teams in the tournament. The teams are divided into six groups of four, with the top two teams from each group and the four best performing teams from the third group advancing to the round of 16. South Korea was making its seventh appearance at the U-17 World Cup. They previously reached the quarterfinals in 1987, 2009, and 2019, their best-ever finish.

In addition to Hong Sung-min in goal, Kang Min-woo, Yoo Min-joon, Yoon Do-young, Baek In-woo, Kim Myung-joon, Jin Tae-ho, Yang Min-hyuk, Bae Sung-ho, Seo Jung-hyuk, and Lim Hyun-seop have earned starting spots.

France, the runners-up at the 2023 UEFA U-17 Championship, came out strong in the early going. Korea struggled, too. They conceded the first goal in the second minute. France’s set-piece tactics worked well. On a corner kick, instead of sending a cross into the box, they sent a low cross to Mathieu Amagu outside the penalty area. Amagu hit a precise and powerful shot that rattled the net.

After being in trouble from the start, South Korea fought back. They attacked from behind the aggressive French defense. In the 14th minute, a good passing play led to an attack into the opponent’s zone. However, Yoon Do-young’s final out-front pass was inaccurate. In the 21st minute, Baek In-woo also delivered a good cross.

In the 40th minute, striker Kim Myung-joon had a golden opportunity to go one-on-one with the opposing goalkeeper. This time, his shot went straight at the keeper.

South Korea went into the half unable to equalize. However, it was positive to see the team regain momentum with more attacking chances.

South Korea remained aggressive in the second half. However, it was not to be. There was more bad luck in the goal. In the 13th minute, Baek In-woo made a fantastic run down the right flank. Just before the ball crossed the line, he showed great determination to send in a cross with his body. Jin Tae-ho ran in from behind and unleashed a powerful left-footed volley. However, it hit the opposite post. Jin Tae-ho was quite disappointed.

South Korea has already hit the post three times this tournament. Against the United States in the first round, they were twice denied victory by bad luck.

South Korea introduced Lee Chang-hoon and Cha Je-hoon in the 18th minute of the second half. After coming on as a substitute, Cha tried his luck in the 23rd minute with a sharp left-footed mid-range shot that was saved by the goalkeeper. On a free kick in the 29th minute, Kang Min-woo had a header that went wide of the post.

France were heavy on their feet. They seemed to struggle in the hot and humid conditions of Southeast Asia. As the minutes ticked by, the French players slowed down. South Korea continued to pound on the opponent’s goal looking for an opening, but the long-awaited equalizer never came. Korea was unable to capitalize on their last corner kick opportunity and ultimately suffered a disappointing 0-1 defeat despite their dominance.


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