Korea U-23 team takes Syria 3-1
By Jung Min-ho
Korea’s U-23 team defeated Syria 3-1 at Hwaseong Sports Complex, Thursday, in a football friendly, signaling good prospects for the London Olympics starting July 27.
Daegu FC’s central defender Kim Ki-hee scored two of the goals that led the team to victory. He opened the scoring with a back-header from a cross on the right 34 minutes into the game. On the rising momentum, Gyeongnam FC’s midfielder Yun Il-rok knocked the wind out of Syria, pouncing on a loose ball following a shot from Yoon Bit-Garam just before the first half wrapped up.
As soon as the second half began, Syria geared up to take control of the match, and almost got it, grabbing their first score only six minutes in.
However, Kim put a damper on their fighting spirit by hitting the net from close range, again, with a header, ten minutes later.
Immediately after the game kicked off, the Korean Olympic football team started to mount a sustained attack on the visiting team. However, the initial momentum seemed to falter after several attempts failed to hit the inside of the net and Syria began to pick up the tempo with several attempts on goal. However, Kim’s first score immediately changed the atmosphere.
Some players including Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma midfielder Yoon Bit-Garam, and Kim displayed impressive performances throughout the game, possibly securing their berth on the final Olympic roster.
The victory nonetheless raised questions about whether the team’s defense is ready to compete with strong teams at the upcoming London Games as gaping holes were exposed at some critical moments during the game. Also, the team’s striker Kim Hyun-sung’s subpar performance is, once again, expected to spark debate on whether the team needs Arsenal forward Park Chu-young, who has recently been surrounded with controversy over delaying his military duty by getting permanent residency in Monaco last year.
It seems that manager Hong Myung-bo is still undecided on who will be going to London this July. Players from European leagues such as FC Augsburg’s Koo Ja-cheol, Celtic’s Ki Sung-yeung, and Arsenal’s Park will be decisive factors in his final decision, and the infusion of talent from the European leagues is expected to boost the performance of the team. The deadline for the final roster for the Olympics is July 6.
Starting off the Games against Mexico on July 26, the team will then face Switzerland on July 30 and the Gabonese Republic on August 2 in group B.