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Knockouts-bound S. Korea play Gambia to goalless draw at FIFA U-20 World Cup

May 29, 2023 - 09:26 By Yonhap
Cho Young-kwang of South Korea (center) makes a pass between Sainey Sanyang (left) and Modou Lamin Marong (right) of Gambia during the teams' Group F match at the FIFA U-20 World Cup at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza, Argentina last Sunday. (Yonhap)

With their knockout berth already secured, South Korea have closed out their group stage at the FIFA U-20 World Cup with a goalless draw against Gambia.

South Korea finished in second place in Group F with five points, two back of Gambia, after the scoreless affair at the U-20 World Cup at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza, western Argentina, on Sunday.

As the Group F runners-up, South Korea will face Group B runners-up Ecuador in the round of 16. That match kicks off at 6 p.m. Thursday at Estadio Unico Madre de Ciudades in Santiago del Estero, northern Argentina, or 6 a.m. Friday in Seoul time.

Both South Korea and Gambia had already booked their places in the round of 16 prior to this match. Gambia had done so after beating France on Thursday for their second straight win. South Korea, who'd earlier beat France 2-1 and played Honduras to a 2-2 draw, joined them Saturday, without even playing a match, when Japan lost to Israel 2-1 in Group C action.

There are six groups of four in this tournament. The top two nations from each group, along with four best third-place teams, advanced to the knockout stage. Japan's loss ensured that South Korea, even if they lost to Gambia in their final Group F match, would still be one of the top-four No. 3 seeds.

South Korea will be making their third consecutive trip to the round of 16, after reaching that stage in 2017 and finishing as the runners-up in 2019. The 2021 edition of this biennial tournament was canceled due to COVID-19.

Against Gambia, South Korea head coach Kim Eun-jung replaced seven players from the starting lineup that had faced Honduras on Friday. Defender Choi Seok-hyun was automatically suspended for this match after being sent off on two yellow cards against Honduras, while goalkeeper Kim Joon-hong, too, was unavailable after picking up a yellow card in each of his past two matches.

The teams were scoreless at halftime, with South Korea managing just one shot attempt against Gambia's six.

South Korea showed a little more life in the second half with a half-dozen shot attempts but couldn't solve Gambia with the top seed in Group F at stake. (Yonhap)