Youth team faces tough matchAfter its dramatic come-from-behind win over Nigeria in the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands, the task does not get any easier for the Korean squad.
Korea’s next match is tonight against Brazil, the defending champions and at the top of Group F with four points. Given that most of the players on this year’s team played on the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship winning team, Brazil must be considered the favorite heading into the showdown.
Following the win over Nigeria, Korea has three points, one behind Brazil. The top two teams from each of the six groups advance to the round of 16, and wild cards are awarded to four third-place teams with the most points.
There are several scenarios in which Korea can advance to the elimination round. By defeating Brazil, Korea will finish at the top of the group.
In the case of a draw, Korea would need to have other teams in the group, Nigeria and Switzerland, have a scoreless tie in order to advance. Because Korea has scored three goals, more than both Nigeria and Switzerland, a scoreless game would propel Korea to the next round on the number of goals tiebreaker.
In the case of a Korean loss, if Nigeria and Switzerland score more than a goal apiece in a draw, or if either team wins the game, Korea must rely on the wild card system and hope for a goal differential advantage, another tiebreaker to fill out the brackets in the round of 16.
Another factor in the Korean team’s favor is that every squad in the tournament has played two games, and Chile in Group C is the only team with three points that has scored more goals than Korea.
For the crucial match against the four-time youth champions, Korea will have a banged-up lineup after the both physically and emotionally draining match against Nigeria.
Striker Park Chu-young, who scored the last-minute equalizer, dislocated his left elbow, but practiced with the team yesterday with his arm in a cast. Team physician Seo Dong-won said although it may take up to four weeks for the injury to heal completely, Park is good to go tonight.
Forward Shin Young-rok, who wore a face protector after sustaining a broken jaw in a game last month, now has an injured right big toe. A team official said Shin, who took painkillers and has his toe tightly wrapped, should be in the lineup tonight.
by Kang Hye-ran