The South Korea U-20 national soccer team, 먹튀검증 led by head coach Kim Eun-Joong, will face Italy in the quarterfinals of the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup at the Estadio Ciudad de La Plata in La Plata, Argentina, on June 9 at 6 a.m. ET.
Kim Eun-Joong-ho has reached the semifinals unbeaten. They beat France 2-1 in the group stage and drew with Honduras and Gambia. They then defeated Ecuador 3-2 in the round of 16, and in the quarterfinals, defeated Nigeria 1-0 in extra time to reach the last four.
Next up is European powerhouse Italy. The Azzurri defeated England 2-1 in the round of 16 and Colombia 3-1 in the quarterfinals. Tommaso Baldanchi, the “heart of the midfield,” leads the attack, while striker Cesare Cassaday is the tournament’s top scorer with six goals and two assists.
South Korea will now look to advance beyond Italy to their second consecutive final. South Korea finished runner-up at the 2019 tournament in Poland, led by Golden Ball winner Lee Kang-in. The Red Devils and their fans gathered at Gwanghwamun to send their support to Kim Joong-ho.
The Korea Football Association (KFA) announced on July 7, “The KFA, together with the city of Seoul and the ‘Red Devils,’ will hold a group street cheer at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul at 6 a.m. on July 9, the day of the match, to support our youth national team against Italy in the FIFA U-20 World Cup semifinals.”
The Italians have just as high hopes for the tournament as Korea. After failing to qualify for two consecutive World Cups, Italy has been focusing on youth development. This year’s squad is no exception, with top midfield prospects such as Baldanchi and Cassaday attracting a lot of attention.
Giuseppe Ambrosino, the main goalkeeper of the Italy U-20s, spoke about the meeting with Kim, saying, “Personally, I wanted to take revenge against Nigeria (0-2 loss) in the group stage, but it was unfortunate.” “If we made it to the quarterfinals, it means Korea is in a strong state. We will do our best.”
Ambrosino is an up-and-coming player from the Napoli youth ranks. As such, he has high hopes for the matchup with South Korea, who have a connection with Kim Min-jae. “I hope the Korean defenders are not as good as Kim Min-jae,” he said, “I’m watching their games and analyzing them on video. We will attack as a team, so we will do our best.”
Kim Min-jae’s status in Italy and the Serie A league is overwhelming. He joined Napoli from Fenerbahçe (Turkkiye) in July last year, making his first appearance in the European big leagues. Napoli chose Kim as a defender to fill the void left by the departure of key defender Kalidou Koulibaly to Chelsea. The transfer cost just €18.1 million ($25.4 billion).
The move proved to be a godsend for Napoli. Kim made 35 appearances in 37 rounds, scoring two goals and providing two assists. His playing time was second only to captain Giovanni DiLorenzo. He ranked in the top half of the league in most defensive metrics, including second in aerial ball wins (92), fourth in clearances (122), and 10th in total wins (157).
Even if you take away the halo of Napoli’s championship, Kim’s performance was one of the best among defenders in the league. In fact, Kim was the overwhelming favorite for Serie A’s best defender, competing with Di Lorenzo and Theo Hernandez.
Having conquered the Serie A in his first season, Kim has now received offers from big clubs including Manchester United, Liverpool, and PSG. At this point, a move to Manchester United is the most likely outcome, but he’s also a target for several big clubs to reinforce their No. 1 defenders.
That’s why Ambrosino mentioned Kim Min-jae himself and warned against Kim Jung-ho. It’s safe to say that one player has completely changed the face of South Korean soccer.
“I think the biggest thing we need as a team is to be united,” Ambrosino said of the must-win game against South Korea. “I think we need to be united as a team, and we need to do everything we can to make it difficult for them and to win,” he emphasized.