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Korea Republic unfazed by Japan match-up

Saturday, June 1, 2019
Korea Rep-FIFA1

Tychy: Korea Republic's spectacular 2-1 win over Argentina in the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland not only took the East Asians into the Round of 16 but also set up an enticing clash with regional rivals Japan.

Goals by Oh Se-hun (42nd minute) and Cho Young-wook (57th) meant Korea Republic were always in control of the tie despite Argentina pulling one back through Cristian Ferreira in the 88th minute.

The win, however, wasn't enough to secure the Group F top spot as Korea Republic's inferior goal difference meant Argentina finished top despite both collecting six points.

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What it did set up was a mouth-watering tie with East Asian rivals Japan, who finished second in Group B, but Korea Republic head coach Chung Jung-yong said his team will treat it as they would any match.

"It doesn't matter whether we play Japan or whoever. If we can compete with the kind of confidence and cohesion that we have now, I am sure we'll get a good result," Chung said.

The Round of 16 tie will be played in Lublin on Tuesday.

"I am only viewing Japan as our Round of 16 opponents, and there's nothing special to it," the coach added. "We're going to prepare as well as we can."

Korea Republic entered Friday's match needing only a draw to advance. The door to the Round of 16 was also open for the four best third-placed teams, in addition to the top two teams from each of the six groups.

Korea Republic, however, avoided number-crunching headaches with a spectacular victory.

"I am grateful to the players for showing everything they had in the final group match," Chung said. "I told them they needed to focus on this match and not worry about our position in the group table. I said they should try to play at least one more match here because (for most of them) this would be their last U-20 World Cup."


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Ironically enough, if Korea Republic had drawn with Argentina and squeezed into the knockouts as one of the best third-placed teams, it would have given Chung a more desirable scenario.

Had that happened, Korea Republic wouldn't have had to travel, as they would have taken on Ukraine in Tychy.

"Our players are gassed after three matches (in the group stage) and I am worried about the extra travel," Chung said. "I would have preferred to stay here, but there's no problem with anything else."

Chung said it was encouraging to see his defence getting stronger and tighter with each passing match, and beating the favoured Argentina should be a major confidence boost going forward.

Asked what the team's objective is now that they're through to the knockouts, Chung said he's been trying to keep it simple for his players.

"I haven't spoken to them about any goals yet. I've only said playing in this competition is valuable experience for them," he said. "Once the tournament ends, I think they'll be able to see their improvement."

Sources: FIFA via Getty Images, Yonhap

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