The opponent was ranked 75th in the FIFA rankings and was overwhelming in terms of head-to-head record. However, the story is different when it comes to the Asian Games. Uzbekistan is one of the country names that Korean players hate to hear the most.
Korea, led by coach Hwang Seon-hong, will play the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games men’s soccer semifinal against Uzbekistan at the Huanglong Sports Center Stadium in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China, starting at 9 p.m. (Korean time) on the 4th.
Players, coaches, and officials all agree that this is the biggest hurdle and the strongest team in this tournament. Why is Uzbekistan so picky?
Uzbekistan ranks 75th in the FIFA rankings, showing a big difference from Korea (26th). They also have an overwhelming advantage in their record against national team A, with 11 wins, 4 draws, and 1 loss out of 16 matches.
It is true that these numbers are for reference, but the important thing is that this stage is the Asian Games, not a match between national teams. In the past two Asian Games, both teams went to overtime. At the 2010 Guangzhou Tournament, they were ahead 1-0 in the quarterfinals, but after hitting an equalizer in the second half and going into overtime, they advanced to the semifinals with back-to-back goals from Park Joo-young and Kim Bo-kyung. Even in the 1994 Hiroshima Games where Team A participated, they were caught 0-1 in the semifinals.
The most extreme time I went back and forth between heaven and hell was during the Jakarta-Palembang Games five years ago. Likewise, Korea, which met Uzbekistan in the quarterfinals, had a fierce battle. When Hwang Ui-jo scored multiple goals, the team scored three goals, and in the 30th minute of the second half, Hwang Ui-jo scored a dramatic equalizer to send the game into overtime. One Uzbek player was sent off in a rough match. With a numerical advantage, Hwang Ui-jo created a penalty kick two minutes before the end of the second half of extra time, and Hwang Hee-chan, who played as a kicker, succeeded in scoring, creating a drama.
At the time, Son Heung-min was so nervous that he turned around without being able to watch Hwang Hee-chan’s penalty kick, and the players who played at the time later agreed that it was “a game I never want to play again” and “the most difficult game.”
Coach Kim Hak-beom, who returned home with a gold medal, said at the time, “I think the game was the final. While playing, I felt that it was a good team.” He added, “It was a difficult game to prepare for. The comeback process was difficult. There are limits to encouraging players. “I was there and it was actually difficult. I wondered if it would end like this. With 15 minutes of extra time left at the end, I did my best. The players also had a hard time. They were exhausted and their eyes were blurred,” he said.메이저사이트
Coach Kim Hak-beom, who was scolded by the players’ lack of concentration after the game, said, “It was difficult even after the game was over, but I saw it as an opportunity to strengthen the players’ discipline.” “He said.
The momentum is also good. They reached the semifinals for the first time in 29 years since the 1994 Hiroshima Games. In the quarterfinals, they even put Saudi Arabia to sleep. Uzbekistan is showing strength in its age group, winning the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Asian Cup in 2018, fourth place in 2020, and second place last year.
This is a team that plays tough soccer with solid physical strength. Coach Hwang Seon-hong, who won the quarterfinals against China on the 1st, did not let down his guard, saying, “Uzbekistan is quite straightforward, powerful and energetic. They are a team that fights for power, so it can be difficult to fight against them, so we need to prepare well tactically.”
Baek Seung-ho also said, “I know that I am strong and that it will not be an easy match. First of all, I will enjoy the victory today, rest well, prepare, and prepare to do well to win somehow.”
It can be summarized as ‘a battle between a spear and a shield’. Korea scored 23 goals (1 goal) in 5 games including 3 group stage matches, round of 16, and quarterfinals. On the other hand, Uzbekistan scored 7 goals in 4 games (2 group games, 2 tournament games) while conceding only 2 goals. In the tournament round, 4 goals and 1 goal were conceded in 2 games.
Korea’s attack is running smoothly. In the quarterfinals against China, they won 2-0 even with Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain) and Jung Woo-young (Stuttgart) excluded from the starting lineup. The two played in the second half and warmed up lightly.
A name that cannot be left out of the Korean national team is Lee Kang-in. Appearing in the third match against Bahrain in the group stage, he was substituted after 36 minutes of his first match and played only 60 minutes in the match against Kyrgyzstan. In the quarterfinals against China, he started on the bench and was brought in in the second half, playing for nearly 30 minutes.
Since the game against Uzbekistan aims for rough play, the possibility of starting on the bench like the game against China cannot be ruled out. However, if Uzbekistan, which boasts a solid defense, struggles, there is a high possibility that it will be deployed earlier than expected. Lee Kang-in played for Mallorca last season and was highlighted as one of the best chance makers in Spain’s La Liga.
Lee Kang-in is the one who makes a difference even in the face of a defense wall that rarely has any gaps in front of it.
Despite his strong wariness toward Uzbekistan, there is no disagreement in the assessment that Korea is still superior in objective power. That’s why he shouldn’t relax even more. Coach Hwang expressed his enthusiasm, saying, “The greatest enemy is within us. We must never let down our guard and have confidence, but we need to take a step back and think. We will approach cautiously and make sure to lead the semifinals to victory and advance to the finals.”
Coach Hwang expressed his determination, saying, “There are two steps left. I will only look forward with the players.”