Late goals wipe out lead in U-23 team's 2-1 loss to France
Korea lost their final pre-Olympic tuneup match 2-1 to France on Friday at Seoul World Cup Stadium in western Seoul, throwing away a late lead in the dying few minutes of the game.
The first 45 minutes were uneventful, with neither side able to break through. Things picked up after the break, with both sides trying their luck, but it was a 63rd minute penalty that finally broke the tie, with Korean wildcard pick Kwon Chang-hoon slotting the ball home to take a 1-0 lead.
Korea were able to hold on to that lead for 20 minutes despite some spotty defense, but France broke through in the 83rd minute, scoring the equalizer and then following it up six minutes later with the go-ahead goal for the 2-1 win.
The winning goal was a kick in the teeth for Korea, who looked set to hold France to a 1-1 draw. In the end, it was an awkward bounce that gave the European side the win, sneaking past Song Bum-keun for a goal that was more bad luck than anything else.
The 2-1 loss is frustrating for head coach Kim Hak-bun's side, but with France's footballing pedigree, it isn't necessarily a terrible result. Korea held France to a draw for nearly the entire game, slipping behind with just minutes left to play.
There are still concerns in defense, concerns that suddenly got a lot louder on Friday after the KFA announced that wildcard pick Kim "The Monster" Min-jae, the formidable center back, would not be able to play at the Olympics.
Kim Min-jae was expected to anchor together a young and inexperienced defense, but his league club Beijing Guoan refused to release him for the Games. There had been hopes that Kim would move on before the Olympics began — there has been interest from a number of European clubs — but with no deal finalized, Beijing's decision still stands.
Kim will be replaced by Park Ji-soo of K League 2 club Gimcheon Sangmu.
Korea earlier in the week held Argentina to a 2-2 draw, another frustrating result but one that suggests that the young Taeguk Warriors have a lot of potential. Defense was also a concern in that game.
At the Olympics, Korea will first face New Zealand on July 22 at 5.pm. at the Kashima Stadium in Kashima, Japan. The second match will be against Romania on July 25 at 8 p.m. and the third match against Honduras on July 28 at 5:30 p.m.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]