The moment the final whistle blew, our players slumped to the ground.
Choi Seok-hyun, who had scored the winning goals in the round of 16 and quarterfinals, looked like he couldn’t believe his loss, while Kang Sang-yoon looked like he was about to burst into tears at any moment.
Kim Ji-soo, the youngest at 19, ended up in hot tears.
Captain Lee Seung-won, who is often described as “reticent,” struggled to hold back his tears and helped his dejected teammates to their feet.
[Lee Seung-won/U-20 World Cup Team Captain: I actually had tears in my eyes, but I think I comforted them a little more, telling them not to hang their heads down because the game wasn’t over yet, and to prepare well for the rest of the game].스포츠토토
The players now pick themselves up and prepare for the 3-4th place match against Israel.
The third place team gets to stand on the podium and take home a bronze medal, so the game against Israel is not just a standings game, but a ‘bronze medal game’.
Israel is considered a fringe player in European soccer at the adult level, but this U20 team has made a huge splash by reaching the quarterfinals on their first ever appearance, and they are no pushovers, especially after beating Brazil in the quarterfinals.
Like the dreams I had while preparing for the tournament and the mindset I had then,
[Kang Sung-jin (pre-tournament): I’ve been dreaming about this tournament since I was a kid.]
[Lee Ji-han (pre-competition) : I’m not going to give up or anything like that.]
[Kang Sang-yoon (pre-tournament): I want to grow up and go back].
With ‘unbreakable hearts’, the young taijiquan warriors take on the final challenge with a precious medal at stake.