Korea advances in extra timeThe Korean youth soccer team will meet its old rival Japan in the semifinals of the biennial Asian Football Confederation Under-20 Youth Championship tomorrow.
Korea fought off a determined Uzbek side to snatch a 2-1 extra-time quarterfinal win at the Cheras Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Sunday.
Korea dominated throughout but let a 10-man Uzbekistan team grab a late equalizer to force the issue. However, Shin Young-rok sealed the victory with a brilliant overhead kick in extra time.
By winning the match, Korea is guaranteed a spot in the World Youth Championships next year in the Netherlands.
Japan beat Qatar 5-3 on penalty kicks in the other quarterfinal, also held on Sunday.
Korea showed potential as well as sloppiness. Its midfield was coordinated and the defense stable, but the side squandered several scoring chances.
The ineptitude in attack was further exposed when Korea was unable to capitalize after Uzbek defender Aziz Ibragimov was shown a red card eight minutes into the second half for taking out Oh Jang-eun from behind.
FC Seoul’s striker Kim Seung-young gave Korea the lead with a free kick on 38 minutes. Uzbekistan did not mount much of a challenge throughout the game, and were further reduced when Ibragimov was sent off.
They were given a lifeline 33 minutes into the second half, however, when Nodirebek Kuziboyev smashed home a free kick to force extra time.
Both sides were exhausted in the extra period. The Uzbeks seemed to be playing better than the Koreans until the substitute Shin received a high ball inside the box with his back to the goal. After a deft first touch, he knocked home an overhead kick that left the Uzbek keeper bewildered.
Looking toward the semifinals, Korea has a better record than Japan since last December. Korea has beaten its neighbor twice already this year by scores of 1-0.
Korea does have some injury concerns though. During the game against Uzbekistan, Kim Seung-yong hurt his knee and midfielder Baek Seung-min suffered a knock on the ankle. Both are listed as uncertain for the match against Japan.
The Korean coach sounded confident, however. “Our mental strength and confidence will lead us to victory,” Park Sung-hwa said.
by Kang Hye-ran
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