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Eom Ji-sung inspired by Korea Republic's Poland 2019 heroics

Goiania: Less than five months ago in Poland, Korea Republic's U-20 team were slicing through their competition at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. 

Led by Golden Ball winner Lee Kang-in and heroic shot-stopper Lee Gwang-yeon, the young Taeguk Warriors took home a silver medal. It was the best finish at a men's FIFA tournament in the country's history.

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At the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019, the younger Korea Republic squad have already accomplished something their U-20 counterparts could not: a win in their first match.

Forward Eom Ji-sung's teasing free-kick in the 26th minute fooled Haiti goalkeeper Stephner Paul into conceding the opening goal in Goiania, and from there the Koreans clamped down on their energetic opponents to see out a 2-1 victory.

“When there was a delay in the game by the referee to re-position players, the goalkeeper stepped forward a little bit," Eom told of the sequence that led to his goal.

"So I thought there might be a chance to beat him at the far post. I targeted my free-kick a little further than usual, and it worked. When I scored, I was very happy. This is the biggest stage, the biggest competition you can compete in at this age.”

Up next? A showdown at the top of Group C with France on Wednesday.

“France is one of the strongest teams in this tournament," said Eom. "Our strength and first focus will be defence, then counter attacking when we get our chance."

Korea Republic's U-17 outfit need not think too far back to find sources of motivation from their peers. The U-20 team's run through Poland 2019 was thoroughly monitored and celebrated back home.

“When I watched those matches on TV, it made me believe that we could also do that," Eom said. "We are far from the final stages of this competition, of course. But when I watched the final stages of the U-20 World Cup, I thought that the same thing could happen with our team.”

There's plenty of shared club connections among the U-17s and U-20s. Not only do Eom and speedy U-20 attacker Um Wong-song both represent Gwangju FC, they also overlapped at the same high school (Wong-song is a recent graduate).

The air of confidence and determination about the Korea Republic group in Brazil mirrors the one in Poland. No matter the competition or circumstances, they believe in their ability to succeed.

"We have enough ability on our team to take our chances well when they come," said Eom. "I believe we can do this against France or anyone.”

Sources:, FIFA via Getty Images

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