South Korea earned a hard-fought 1-0 victory over India in the quarter-finals of the AFC U16 Championship at the Petaling Jaya Stadium in Malaysia on Monday. It took 68 minutes for Korea to break down a gritty Indian defence when Niraj Kumar could only parry a shot from Choi Minseo and the surging Jeong Sangbin made no mistake with his follow up.
Korea have not just progressed to the semi-final but also booked their ticket to the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru next year. In the previous edition, Korea were bottom of their group.
"I am really happy right now. In the last edition, we did not fare well. But this time we have qualified for the U-17 World Cup, the second time in our history. So it feels great," said coach Kim Jung Soo.
It was substitute Sang-bin who scored the winner and the coach admitted that it was necessary to bring in fresh blood to break down India's stubborn defence.
"Today was a game where we had more pressure on us. Since the first game, we have been making simple mistakes and today was the same which complicated the game a little bit. So we need to work on those things. I needed to make the changes and I think the changes were key to the game," he said.
Korea have scored 13 goals in four matches and are yet to concede in the tournament. Soo rightly thinks that the defensive organisation is their primary strength.
"Right from the qualifiers, our focus has been to not concede a goal. Our strength lies in our way of defending where we prevent the opponent from building-up and moving the ball comfortably. We do not allow the opponents to come up easily and that is our strength," signed off the coach.