“Every time Bae Jun-ho receives the ball, Korean fans scream and opponents panic.”
FIFA has named Bae Junho (Daejeon, South Korea), 20, as the player to watch in the Under-20 World Cup semifinals.
The South Korean U-20 team, led by head coach Kim Eun-joong, will face Italy in the semifinals of the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina at 6 a.m. ET on Sept. 9 at La Plata Stadium in La Plata, Argentina.
FIFA posted a match preview on its website a day ahead of the match. “Three-time defending champions Italy and two-time defending champions South Korea are about to meet. The two teams will meet for the first time in 42 years at the tournament.”
FIFA also named Bae Jun-ho as the player to watch in South Korea. Bae Jun-ho is one of Daejeon’s brightest prospects and has shown his quality in the K League this season with consistent playing time. Jürgen Klinsmann, the head coach of the senior national team, reportedly had his eye on him. However, Bae pulled a muscle ahead of the tournament and was unable to play in the group stage.
He started the round of 16 against Ecuador and scored a goal and an assist to lead South Korea to the quarterfinals. He set up Lee Young-joon (Gimcheon Sangmu) for the opening goal in the 11th minute with a pinpoint cross, and in the 19th minute, he fooled both the defense and the goalkeeper with a perfect touch and painting move before finding the back of the net himself – a performance worthy of the ace who wears the number 10 shirt.
FIFA said: “Bae Jun-ho’s imagination and unpredictable tricks are playing a key role in the Taeguk Warriors’ challenge. Every time he receives the ball, Korean fans scream and opponents panic.”
For Italy, goal-scoring midfielder Cesare Cassaday (Reading) is a key player. The 6-foot-2 midfielder joined Chelsea last year and spent the 2022-2023 season on loan at Reading, where he gained experience. He has scored six goals and provided two assists in the tournament, making him Watch List No. 1.
FIFA said: “Cassaday hasn’t been the most talked about player in his native Italy, but he has certainly been a mainstay so far. With six goals and two assists using his right foot, left foot and head, he is on course to win the Golden Boot and Golden Ball.” 메이저놀이터
The top scorer needs just one more goal to become the most prolific Italian player in a single FIFA competition. He is currently tied with Paulo Rossi (1982 World Cup in Spain) and Salvatore Scillaci (1990 World Cup in Italy) with six goals.
Meanwhile, Italy is suffering from the Asia jinx at the U-20 World Cup. The Azzurri have faced Asia five times in the tournament, losing all five. Kim will look to extend Italy’s winless streak against Asia to six games.