South Korea have clinched a spot in the knockout stage at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina even before playing their final group stage match.
Japan's 2-1 loss to Israel in Group C in Mendoza, western Argentina, on Saturday (local time) ensured that South Korea will grab a ticket to the round of 16 from Group F regardless of their result against Gambia on Sunday.
There are six groups of four nations in this tournament. The top two teams from each group, plus four best third-place teams, will advance to the last 16.
South Korea are currently in second place in Group F behind Gambia with four points. And Japan's loss meant South Korea will be no worse than fourth best among all No. 3 seeds even if they lost to Gambia on Sunday.
Among third-place teams, Nigeria and New Zealand have booked their knockout places with six points and four points apiece. Tunisia have three points with one match to play. Slovakia and Japan have finished their group play with three points, meaning they will finish behind South Korea once the Koreans finish their group play.
South Korea have now reached the knockouts at the third consecutive FIFA U-20 World Cup, following their runner-up finish in 2019 and an appearance in the last 16 in 2017. The 2021 tournament was canceled due to COVID-19.
In Argentina, South Korea beat France 2-1 to open the group stage and then played 10-man Honduras to a 2-2 draw. The group stage finale is set for 6 p.m. Sunday in Mendoza, or 6 a.m. Monday in Seoul time. (Yonhap)