South Korea’s U-22 soccer team won against Kyrgyzstan in the first round of qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, but were left disappointed by a frustrating performance.
Hwang Sun-hong’s U-22 team earned a 1-0 victory over Kyrgyzstan in the second match of Group B of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Asian Cup 2024 at the Changwon Football Center in Gyeongnam, South Korea, on Monday.
After suffering a 0-2 defeat to Qatar in the first match on June 6, Hwang Sun-hong hoped to turn the tide with a big win against Kyrgyzstan, who were considered ‘one step below’.
However, when the lid was lifted, it turned out to be an unsatisfactory performance for Hwang, who is aiming to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
There was only one cool goal.
In the third minute of the first half, ‘foreigner’ Normal Bin (Minnesota) sprinted down the right flank and broke down the Kyrgyz defensive line before crossing to Hong Yun-sang (Pohang), who found the top corner of the net with a non-stop right-footed shot from the edge of the box.
After dominating the early going, South Korea looked to add to their lead with 10 shots (four on target) on the day, but were unable to find the back of the net, once again showing their lack of finishing power.
In the 18th minute, Oh Jae-hyuk’s (Jeonbuk) forward cross was met by Kim Shin-jin (Seoul) with a header from the edge of the box that went wide of the post, and in the 25th minute, Kim Shin-jin’s low right-footed shot from in front of the goal was saved by the goalkeeper.
Three minutes later, in the midst of a scramble after a corner kick on the right, Cho Woo-je (Busan) saw his left-footed shot go well over the crossbar.
Oh Jae-hyuk’s right-footed shot after a cross from Hong Yun-sang and Baek Sang-hoon’s (Seoul) header just before halftime also missed the target.
In the 29th minute, Gwangju FC duo Heo Yul and Uhm Ji-sung, who took the field as substitutes, tried to score another goal through a combination play, but Uhm’s cross did not reach Heo Yul properly.
It wasn’t easy to get a shot off either.
South Korea managed to score early in the first half, but the offense was disrupted on several occasions due to missed passes.
Despite scoring the first goal, they were unable to fully take control of the game due to a lack of precision in the midfield, as they were unable to move forward and were forced to back-pass frequently.
They were also unable to distribute the ball smoothly to the frontline attacking areas due to the opponent’s dense defense and physicality.
Even during the buildup, when the opponent applied stronger forward pressure than expected, we were in a hurry to kick the ball forward, and in our haste, our feet got tangled and we lost possession of the ball.
This led to a counter-attack by the opponent, which the defense was able to narrowly block late on.
The defense also failed to clear the ball properly, leading to unsettling situations as they were unable to cut off the opponent’s attacking chances.
It was a small consolation that Jung Sang-bin was able to whip around the opposition’s flanks with his pace, and Hong Yun-sang dribbled lightly to the front line on several occasions.
Naturally, all eyes will be on Hwang Sun-hong to see if he can secure a ticket to Paris.
The team will need to top their group in this qualifier or finish in the top four of the 11 group runners-up to qualify for the U-23 Asian Cup in April/May next year, the final qualifier for the Paris Olympics.
In the AFC U-23 Asian Cup, teams must finish in the top three to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
With the win, South Korea has three points to top Group B and will face ‘underdogs’ Myanmar in the final match on Wednesday.
Even if Hwang Sun-hong makes it out of the group stage and into the Asian Cup, the question is whether he can finish in the top three.
They will have to beat Japan, who have been on a tear lately, Iran, who are a tough opponent, as well as Australia and Saudi Arabia.
The team will need to work on eliminating defensive insecurities, improving their passing in the buildup, their ability to control the midfield, and their precision on set pieces. 토토