Two former South Korean football stars said Wednesday they hoped the youth national team will go deep into the upcoming FIFA tournament at home -- even beyond where they'd gone more than three decades ago.
Shin Yon-ho and Kim Jong-boo were pivotal in South Korea's joining the final four at the 1983 FIFA World Youth Championship -- now known as the FIFA U-20 World Cup -- in Mexico. South Korea met Uruguay in the quarterfinals of the 1983 tournament and were tied 1-1 after regulation play. Shin then scored the winner after receiving Kim's cross in the first half of extra time and lifted South Korea to the semifinals.
South Korea lost to tournament champions Brazil in the semifinals and settled for fourth place. It still remains the country's best finish yet in the U-20 World Cup.
This year, South Korea is the host of the U-20 World Cup. The young Taeguk Warriors are in Group A with Guinea, Argentina and England at the 24-team competition that will kick off on Saturday.
Shin, who is now head coach of the Dankook University football team, said South Korea can surprise football fans again.
"I think the national team members today are better than the players in the 1983 edition," he said. "The tournament is also played at home, so it's possible that they can achieve a better result than expected."
Shin, who scored three goals in the 1983 tournament, said that it's important that South Korea maintain good team chemistry until the end of the tournament.
"Back in 1983, most of our national team members were college students, so we felt no sense of disharmony," he said. "But today's national team has players in professional clubs and some are playing overseas, which could cae some problems among players. I think head coach Shin Tae-young and the coaching staff have big roles."
Kim, who now guides the second division side Gyeongnam FC, said South Korean players should not feel too relaxed jt becae they're playing at home.
"Playing at home could be a big advantage, but at the same time, it could backfire on young players," he said. "I think if they play with confidence, they can reach the final."
Kim, 52, said he wants the national team to make history at the U-20 World Cup.
"It's somewhat sad that the result in 1983 still remains the country's best performance," he said. "I hope our young players break that record this time." (Yonhap)