Blood, sweat and tears for victory
Team Korea advanced to the round of 16 on Saturday morning in the Qatar World Cup thanks to a tie-breaking goal at the last minute in a match with Portugal. Ghana also helped Korea with its 0-2 defeat to Uruguay on the same day. But Korea’s 2-1 victory against soccer powerhouse Portugal would have been impossible without all the “blood, sweat and tears” of the players, as the title of a BTS song says.
After the 2-3 defeat of Korea in a match with Ghana, a sports analyst fixed the possibility of Team Korea advancing to the round of 16 at a mere 9 percent. But all the sacrifice of Taeguk Warriors lifted the 9 percent probability to 100 percent.
After years of obscure play, Korean football grew remarkably after its advancement to fourth place in the 2002 World Cup co-hosted by Korea and Japan. In the 2010 Cup, Korea moved up to the round of 16 in overseas matches for the first time. Under the leadership of head coach Paulo Bento, Team Korea has developed so-called “build-up play” based on delicate passes, dribbles and set pieces over the past four years.
According to FotMob, a football statistics app, Team Korea led 53.5 percent of its games in Qatar and showed 4.3 effective shoots per game. That places Korea at 13th rank and 11th rank in the respective categories. In precise crosses, Korea ranked 2nd with 7.3 per match. Team Korea dominated the game with Uruguay and overwhelmed Ghana with 22 shoots in its matches of Group H.
The feat of the build-up play owed much to each player faithfully doing their share and more. Midfielder Kim Moon-hwan and veteran defender Kim Jin-su joined offense and defense with their tireless physical strength, midfielder Hwang In-beom did not care about his head injury, and defender Kim Min-jae did his best despite his leg injury.
Most outstanding was team captain Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur. He masterfully orchestrated Taeguk Warriors and created space for attack by always drawing two to three defenders of a rival team around him. The climax of his superb play was a fantastic pass after a 70-meter dribble to Hwang Hee-chan rushing to the goal at that time so he could shoot the ball into the net.
Watching Team Korea’s amazing performance, the country became one. Regardless of cold in December, tens of thousands of fans enthusiastically rooted for the Taeguk Warriors. Such teamwork is what we need today. We hope politicians, employers and employees also demonstrate a mature sense of harmony and unity for the country.
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