The last match coach Hwang Sun-hong played against Japan was the quarterfinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 Asian Cup held in Uzbekistan in June last year.
Coach Hwang Seon-hong assembled the best team of his age group with the goal of winning, including calling up Lee Kang-in, who played for Mallorca. They easily passed the group stage and cruised to first place in Group C.
The team that Hwang Seon-hong met in the quarterfinals was Japan. With the long-term goal of preparing for the 2024 Paris Olympics, Japan formed its national team with players aged 19 to 21 rather than 23 years old. In terms of strength, it was a game where the victory weighed heavily on the Korean side.
However, when I opened the lid, the game unfolded differently than expected. Japan scored the first goal in the 21st minute of the first half and scored an additional goal in the 20th minute of the second half. Then, Japan’s third goal came in the 35th minute of the second half, and Hwang Seon-hong fell to 0-3. Before this tournament, Korea had never failed to reach the semifinals of the Under-23 Asian Cup.
Coincidentally, many of the players who participated in this game, including Lee Kang-in, are included in this tournament. They include midfielders Hong Hyun-seok and Ko Young-jun, defender Choi Jun, goalkeeper Min Seong-jun, and striker Cho Young-wook.
Hong Hyun-seok, who is playing as a key midfielder in this national team, pledged, “I want to avenge myself because I lost badly to Japan last year. Since Japan came to the finals, I want to get revenge.” Striker Jo Young-wook said, “Of course, revenge is needed, but honestly, even if it’s my first time seeing it, all I can think is that it’s a situation where we have to win at all costs. In my head, the only thing I can think of is victory. I’m trying to think about how I can win and how I can prepare.”
However, unlike Korea, which built an elite group of members by filling up to three wild cards based on the members at the time, Japan actually became younger. Instead of excluding the overseas players selected in the previous competition, college players and professional rookies participated in this competition. As this competition has been postponed by a year, selection is possible up to those born in 1999. Those born in 2001 are the oldest, 7 people were born in 2002, and the remaining one was born in 2004. Not a single wild card was used. Nevertheless, after passing the group stage with all wins, they defeated their enemy North Korea 2-1 in the quarterfinals and won 4-0 over Hong Kong in the semifinals, putting them in contention for the gold medal with South Korea.
After the semifinal match against Hong Kong, Japan coach Ko Oiwa said, “We will be fully prepared for the final and hope that everyone can play on the field,” and pledged, “We will do our best to win the gold medal.” Hong Kong coach Jern Andersen praised Japan, saying, “Japan was so strong.”메이저사이트
This final is also an opportunity to break the Japanese slump, not only for Hwang Sun-Hong but also for Korean soccer as a whole. Recently, Korea’s adult national team as well as all age groups have been struggling against Japan. In March 2021, the adult national team led by coach Paulo Bento bowed 0-3, and in June 2022, the under-16 team lost 0-3 to Japan. Also, the adult national team fell 0-3 in the East Asian Cup and 0-3 in the final of the Under-17 Asian Cup.
Coach Hwang Seon-hong said, “Regardless of the reason, we have to win,” and “We will work together to take the last step.”
Since the 1951 New Delhi Games in India, when men’s soccer was adopted as an official event in the Asian Games, Korea has won the title five times (1970, 1978, 1986, 2014, 2018) and holds the record for the most wins (Iran four times). If they win this tournament after winning the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and the 2014 Jakarta Palembang Asian Games, they will become the first team in Asian Games history to win three times in a row.