Kim Eun-joong, 44, who led South Korea’s U-20 national team to a four-peat, emphasized to his players that it’s a beginning, not an end.
South Korea had a hot June once again. Kim’s team reached the quarterfinals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina. It was the second consecutive quarterfinal appearance for the team, which was led by Lee Kang-in (22-Mallorca) and followed a runner-up finish in Poland in 2019.
In truth, expectations were not high for this team. They didn’t have star players like Lee Seung-woo (25-Suwon FC) and Lee Kang-in, and there were a lot of last-minute venue changes and injuries. However, the team’s return from the tournament was met with great interest. They were greeted by fans at the airport and received plenty of media exposure.
“Actually, there was nothing new or awkward because I had experienced it before,” Kim told E-Daily at the C-H Football Academy, “and the players were surprised and happy to see the atmosphere completely changed from when they left the country.” 안전놀이터
Rather than being disappointed with the lack of attention before the tournament, Kim admitted that he felt sorry for the players. “I was sorry that I didn’t get a good reception when I left the World Cup,” Kim said, “but the players didn’t mind.” “We only had about two weeks to prepare for the tournament, so we focused on training more during that time,” he said.
The event was held in Indonesia for the first time. Kim, who won gold as a coach at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games, knew the local conditions inside out. “I was familiar with the climate, environment, and so on, so I wasn’t worried,” he said. “But when we suddenly changed to Argentina, the jet lag was a big issue, and I had never been to South America, so it was hard to make a judgment.”
“The facilities, the environment, the grass, the food, everything was perfect,” Kim said, “and the concentration was so good that I think we did well at the World Cup.” The trials continued during the tournament.
The trials continued during the tournament. Park Seung-ho (20, Incheon United) was sent home early due to injury and there were some questionable refereeing decisions. It would have been easy to lose his composure, but Kim remained as calm as ever.
“There were a lot of things that puzzled me about the referee’s decision,” Kim said, “but if I got excited, the players would blame the referee, so I kept my cool. I didn’t mention the referee at all.”
Kim, who has experience with age-group representation, emphasized self-discipline in his squad, citing Hwang Hee-chan (27, Wolverhampton), who plays in the English Premier League (EPL). “They’re still young, so they don’t know the coolness of a professional,” Kim said, “so naturally we talked a lot about motivation in our meetings.”
“I saw Hwang Hee-chan’s personal training and grueling diet on a broadcast,” he said, “and I asked him, ‘If a player who plays in the world’s top leagues prepares so hard, what percentage of you are doing the same?’ He said he needed more effort to overcome.”
“The players deserve to be congratulated for their achievements at the World Cup,” says Kim, “but it’s not the end, it’s the beginning. They need to prove themselves to their teams just like they did at the World Cup.” “I told the players not to be satisfied with their current achievements, but I would like to see them win intra-team competitions and play a lot of matches,” he said, looking forward to seeing them fly even higher.