“We need continuous attention and investment to nurture talent.”
The Korea National Under-24 Football Team, which will compete at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games, played Bahrain in the first match of the men’s soccer group stage on the evening of June 24. Earlier in the day, the 22nd DENSO Cup Korea-Japan college soccer match was held at Anyang Sports Complex.
While soccer fans’ attention was focused on Hwang Sun-hong, who participated in the Asian Games, the Korean team lost 1-2 in a close match against the Japanese team.
The Korean team also lost 0-1 at the 21st DENSO Cup in Japan in March, making it two losses in two meetings this year.
South Korea was once touted as the dominant force in East Asian soccer, but that’s becoming a thing of the past.
South Korea has lost ground to Japan in the FIFA rankings, as well as in the number of players playing in Europe. In the September FIFA rankings, Japan was ranked 19th and South Korea was ranked 26th in Asia, behind Iran (21st).
As for the Asian Cup, the crowning glory of Asian soccer, South Korea has won the tournament twice (1956 and 1960), but Japan is the most prolific winner with four titles (1992-2000, 2004-2011).
While South Korea’s last win was a whopping 63 years ago, Japanese soccer has grown by leaps and bounds since the 1990s, winning the title four times.
In recent years, it’s been hard to find victories against Japan in age-group competitions.
Jeju International University coach Seo Hyuk-soo, 49, who coached South Korea’s university team at the 22nd DENSO Cup, also noted Japan’s growth. Seo is a former defender who played 216 games for Jeonbuk and Seongnam in the K League.
In an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Nov. 27, Seo emphasized his continued interest and investment in developing talent.
He also emphasized that the DENSO Cup is a unique experience for players to develop their skills and broaden their horizons, especially since it is not easy for college players to compete in national competitions.
The Denso Cup has been sponsored by Japanese auto parts company Denso for more than 30 years to develop soccer and foster future soccer talent. This is the 22nd edition of the Korea-Japan University Games.
This year, the tournament was expanded to include first- and second-year college competitions and a women’s college competition. This means that college athletes have more opportunities to gain international experience.
It is enviable that there is no corporate culture in Korea that consistently sponsors such tournaments.
“It was disappointing to lose, but I felt that our players have grown to the next level,” said Seo, who played in the DENSO Cup. “The process of being selected for the Korean national team, training together, and playing against the national team is a special experience that enhances your abilities as a player and broadens your horizons.”
Seo agrees that the gap between Korean and Japanese soccer is widening. “I felt once again that Japan is good,” he said, “I used to think that they only had good technique, but now I see that they have grown in various aspects such as power and speed, as well as link-up play.” “I have been watching Japanese soccer for more than 10 years, and it has grown steadily over the years,” he explained.레고토토
“The Japanese players have good individual skills, so we tried to press them hard with physicality,” he said. “They didn’t panic, and they handled it well. Their basic individual skills were good, their movement to receive the ball, and their ability to connect with the ball while looking at their surroundings were excellent.”
What changes should Korean soccer make?
“College soccer is a part of the future of Korean soccer,” said Seo. “Japan has been developing college soccer through the Denso Cup for a long time. These efforts are the foundation for the growth of good players.”
“Korea also has world-class players playing overseas, and there are many promising players in college soccer. However, there is an urgent need for continued attention and investment to foster talent.”