The Korea U-20 National Team is set to make history.
The South Korean U-20s, led by head coach Kim Eun-joong, will face Italy in the quarterfinals of the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup at La Plata Stadium in Argentina on Monday morning.
The weight of Italy’s influence on world soccer can be intimidating. Italy is a global powerhouse, ranked 8th in the FIFA rankings. The Azzurri are also an absolute powerhouse, having won four adult World Cups, tied for second with Germany (four) behind Brazil (five).
However, this history and influence is strictly from the Italy A team. By U-20 standards, Italy is not a fearsome opponent. They’re a team that I wouldn’t be surprised to see toppled. Only South Korea is better than Italy at the U-20 level.
In terms of U-20 World Cup history, South Korea has reached the final of the U-20 World Cup before. In the last edition, in 2019, they reached the final. They’ve also reached the quarterfinals before Italy. South Korea reached the quarterfinals in 1983.
Italy, on the other hand, has never reached the U-20 World Cup final. Their best finish is fourth place. They reached the quarterfinals in back-to-back tournaments in 2017 and 2019.
South Korea dominates the head-to-head record at the U-20 World Cup. The South Korean U-20s are undefeated against the Italian U-20s in their two-game series. 100% win rate.
South Korea and Italy met for the first time at the 1981 U-20 World Cup, where Choi Soon-ho scored twice and Kwak Sung-ho and Lee Kyung-nam scored consecutive goals to give South Korea a 4-1 victory. Was Italian soccer weak at the time? Surprisingly, a year later in 1982, the Italian A team won the World Cup in Spain. The gap between the A and U-20 teams was huge. 스포츠토토
The second time they met in a friendly in 2000, South Korea won 1-0 thanks to a goal by Lee Ik-Su.
Just because the opponent is Italy doesn’t mean you have to take a step back. The Italians are Italian in name only, and their U-20 prospects have yet to develop into their full Italian selves. They need to recognize that the young Koreans are much stronger than the young Italians and move forward with confidence.
Above all, they will have the strength of Korean soccer, which has been to the final before. The experience of reaching the final is the one thing that can make the difference in the ultimate tournament, the World Cup.