After paving the silk road for hosts China, South Korea’s soccer team is now two steps away from gold. They must overcome another tough opponent, Uzbekistan, to reach the final.
The South Korean men’s Asian Games football team, led by Hwang Sun-hong (55), will face Uzbekistan in the men’s football quarterfinals of the Hangzhou Asian Games at 9 p.m. on Thursday at the Huanglong Sports Center Stadium in Hangzhou, China.
The Koreans, who will be looking to win their first ever three gold medals, are one of the strongest teams in the competition. In fact, the Koreans have been flawless in their five matches from group play through the tournament, scoring 23 goals and conceding just one, without a single loss. They have already surpassed the previous record of 18 goals set in Beijing in 1990.
Making things even trickier for South Korea’s opponents was the fact that they never knew who was going to play. It’s not uncommon for a player you’d expect to start to be benched, or for a candidate to suddenly be thrust into the starting lineup. This is a testament to the depth of the national team’s roster.
For example, in the quarterfinal match against China on the 1st, Ko Young-jun (Pohang) started in place of key player Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain) and helped Korea win. Song Min-kyu (Jeonbuk), who hadn’t been at his best due to injury, scored the game-winning goal in the 2-0 victory in his first start and shared an emotional hug with Hwang.
“I feel like we’re playing as a team, not competing for a starting spot,” he said, “and I try my best to support Coach Hwang’s strategic choices.” Hwang also emphasized that “it’s not important who starts, but that all the attackers are in good shape and they all do their part.”
Hwang’s use of eight colors is also a key strategy to break down Uzbekistan. “We’re looking at Plan A, which is a two-top with small and fast players, Plan B, which is to use a target man who can fight with the defense, and a compromise between the two,” said an official from the national team. Depending on the nature of the opponent and the game situation, Hwang will be flexible in utilizing different attacking resources.
This all-encompassing tactic is partly due to the fact that Uzbekistan is a tough opponent at this age group. 메이저사이트
The team has been successful at the U-23 Asian Cup, winning the title in 2018, finishing fourth in 2020 and runner-up in 2022. South Korea earned a hard-fought 4-3 victory over Uzbekistan in the quarterfinals of the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games five years ago. The two teams also played to a 1-1 draw in an exhibition match last September.
Uzbekistan, coached by Timur Kapadze, who played for Incheon United in the K League 1 in 2011, has been praised for playing a rough and tumble style of soccer that exposes some weaknesses in scoring.
Hwang knows this all too well, and has been working on the best combination until the last training session.
“Uzbekistan is a very straightforward, powerful and energetic team. “They are a team that plays with strength, so if we try to fight with strength together, it can be difficult,” he said. “We need to prepare well tactically.