“When I asked the players what Generation MZ was, they said they didn’t know.”
For Kim Eun-joong, 44, head coach of the U-20 national soccer team, a Gen Xer who swept through the 1990s, the disciples born after the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan were perceived as difficult to control. How to unite the highly individualistic MZ generation in the team sport of soccer was a major concern.
However, at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina, Kim saw the unity and cohesion of his players. Led by a group of fun-loving, work-oriented MZers, the team reached the quarterfinals of the tournament for the second consecutive year after finishing as runners-up in 2019.
Approaching them as ‘soccer seniors’ instead of priests and closing the distance… The final four was made by solidifying trust
“In training, I tried to make the players understand rather than force them,” Kim told Sporting News recently, “and in every training, I explained why we had to do this training, and I think it helped the players understand quickly and helped the team a little more,” he said, adding that explaining the purpose and goal seemed to have a good effect on the players 먹튀검증.
The relationship between coaches and players is often difficult, so Kim recalled his own experience with the age-group national team and concluded that the team’s success in reaching the quarterfinals came from the way they were able to bridge the physical distance and empathize together.
“I think we approached the players a lot as soccer seniors, not as teachers and students at times, so I think the coaching staff was a bit sincere even when we were teaching them drills, and as time went on, I think the players trusted us more and followed us better.”
The tournament had many twists and turns. The tournament was originally scheduled to be held in Indonesia, but when the Indonesian government declared that it would not host Israel for religious reasons, FIFA revoked the hosting rights and Argentina was awarded.
The move from the sweltering heat of Southeast Asia to the wintry heat of South America meant that the organizers had to start over. Kim’s team traveled to Argentina with only a preliminary preparation camp in Brazil, without a proper field trip. Of course, she had developed her own coping skills through the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but it was still a change and a learning experience for her.
“Suddenly, the venue changed and I didn’t know what to expect because I had never been to South America before, so I had to prepare more. The most important part was to get rid of the jet lag as soon as possible so that our athletes could enter the competition with 100 percent condition. I think we did a good job of preparing and conditioning everything during the training camp in Brazil, which is why we did so well in this competition.”
The achievement is significant as South Korea and Japan were the teams with the longest travel time, at 37 hours. They were not intimidated by their opponent’s name recognition and used a strategic approach to succeed, including a 2-1 win over France in the group stage. Kim’s last tournament in Nigeria was in 1999, when they failed to get past Portugal and Uruguay. It’s no wonder the confident juniors were so impressed.
“It’s true that it’s changed a lot from before, but even against France, the players were a bit nervous at the beginning of the game, but surprisingly, we played well according to our preparation. After scoring the first goal, the players’ nervousness eased, and we did a better job of preparing our patterns.” “We held on until the end and won, so I think that atmosphere carried over to the end of the tournament.”
Luck was also on their side. Japan were effectively eliminated ahead of their final group game against Gambia, securing an early round of 16 berth. The split squad gave them the luxury of looking beyond the round of 16, but Kim drew a clear line in the sand and said it was the other teams that benefited, not South Korea.
“The likes of Slovakia and Uzbekistan benefited (from advancing to the round of 16). We prepared (for the final group game) according to our plan, and we didn’t have time to think about the results of other teams.”
No ‘golden generation,’ but they can do better
“Our athletes are going to make a name for themselves in this tournament,” Kim told reporters before the start. Please watch,” he said, emphasizing that they will shatter the world’s perception of them. This means that if they catch the wind, they will be scary. True to Kim’s words, Lee Young-joon (Gimcheon Commerce), Lee Seung-won (Gangwon FC), and Bae Joon-ho (Daejeon Hana Citizen) have been flying high and have become a sought-after resource for Italian teams. Kim Ji-soo headed to England after the tournament to sign a contract with Brentford.
안전놀이터순위 They were called the Valley Generation, but they made themselves the Golden Generation. Experience on the big stage is a huge asset. Being able to stick to a strategy and minimize our weaknesses and turn them into strengths without being swayed by name recognition is a great ability.
“I’m sure the players were upset that they were called the valley generation, but of course that made us stronger. Personally, I don’t think it’s a golden generation, but I think we had a lot of potential and it’s come through, because I told the players that it’s not the end, it’s the beginning, and I think we can be a golden generation depending on how many games we win from now on.”
This generation has the resources to shape the next decade of world soccer. Depending on how they perform, they could become superstars or end their careers in quiet mediocrity. It’s all about how they translate their individual competitiveness to the team.
“Basically, my skills have improved a lot even when I compete against world-class players. Of course, I think the most important thing is the physical condition. Physically, you need to be able to play more than 90 minutes, and you need to have stamina. Coming into this tournament, I was most worried about my match fitness and feel, because I didn’t play a lot of matches for my club, and it’s hard to build match fitness and match feel through training. I hope the players in the team will be stronger in the future, and if we can compete, I think we can be competitive on the world stage.”
In the end, it all boils down to making it to Europe, a soccer powerhouse. Kim Ji-soo has reportedly signed a first-team contract. Bae Joon-ho, Lee Seung-won, and a few others have emerged as targets of interest, but it’s not as if the team is aiming for Europe blindly. For Kim, who did his coaching training in Thunbiz (Belgium) after retiring from active duty, Europe is a place to go when opportunities open up.
“If there is a good opportunity in Europe and you have to go, I think you should definitely go, because you can only grow by going to the world stage as a child and facing world-class players and overcoming them. However, it is obvious that it will be more difficult after going abroad than at home, and unless you have that determination, it is not easy to go out and succeed.”
Kim urges students to challenge themselves to go to Europe with the right mindset, not just the abstract idea of going. In that regard, the likes of Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur), Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton), and Kim Min-jae (Napoli), who have gone on to play in Europe, are good role models. Kim also has a connection to the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games gold medal.
“You know, Hwang Hee-chan showed his life on a TV show, and I edited that part down and showed it to the group once during a training camp in Spain, because the players are MZ generation, so they understand the video more quickly. I asked them to look at a day in the life of a world-class player in the Premier League, and they said, “Isn’t your daily routine before training, after training, eating food, everything is geared towards training?” They said, “Even world-class players have a preparation and a process, and how much do you copy that?” They understood how they live more than how they play.”
If you have the opportunity to go to Europe, you should go
In the end, Kim believes that the time you put in will pay off. There is also the belief that hard work will not be betrayed. He believes that Son Heung-min, Hwang Hee-chan, and Kim Min-jae would have endured moments when they wanted to give up in order to win their battles.
“Each of them must have their own clear goals, but there are times when there is a goal, but there is no process, and there are things that players set goals and want to succeed and go to the (European) big leagues, but to do that, the process must be really hard, and there must be more effort and challenge and things like that, and I think it’s not enough yet, so I think they need to bully themselves a little bit more, challenge themselves, train a lot, and do things like that.
Kim, a former striker, was particularly focused on the completion of the offense. It was unfortunate that Sung Jin-young (Korea University), who was constantly called up, was out due to injury. Also. Park Seung-ho (Incheon United), who scored a goal in the second match against Honduras but returned home early due to a fractured ankle, was also a waste. Lee Young-joon (Gimcheon Commerce) was left alone and fought desperately.
“Striker was the position I worked on the most when I took over the team, but before the tournament, Sung Jin-young was injured and Lee Young-joon was left as the only true striker. Park Seung-ho also fractured his ankle against Honduras, so Lee Young-joon felt more responsible. Of course, he improved more than I thought during the tournament. If I get the chance, I’d like to continue to teach him more. His physical condition and footwork are really good, so he has a lot of potential.
Kim believes he has enough resources to continue the lineage of Korean strikers. If that’s the case, he’ll need to learn from his seniors. The likes of Son Heung-min, Hwang Hee-chan, Oh Hyun-gyu (Celtic), and Hwang Eui-jo (FC Seoul) should be used as textbooks. How did Kim evaluate them?