“The color of the medal doesn’t matter. I want it to be a stepping stone to the next stage.”
South Korea’s Asian Games team, led by Hwang Sun-hong,바카라 will face Japan in the final of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games at the Huanglong Sports Center Stadium in Hangzhou, China on Sunday at 9 p.m. (ET).
After going undefeated through three group games, Korea reached the Round of 16 with wins over Kyrgyzstan, China and Uzbekistan. With just one game left to win the gold medal, they will face their nemesis, Japan.
For the return match after a five-year hiatus, the Japanese roster was lightened up. The roster is dominated by university players. Ten out of 22 players are university students. In addition, five of the team’s defenders are university students. Hayato Oguda, Ibuki Konno, Manato Yoshida, Hiroki Segine, and Genta Nemoto.
At first glance, it looks easy. After all, you’d think that having only two out of five college defenders in the starting lineup would leave holes exposed.
But you can’t let your guard down. At the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Games, Japan had a large number of university students on their roster. South Korea, on the other hand, had the strongest roster ever, including Son Heung-min, Hwang Hee-jo, Lee Seung-woo, Hwang Hee-chan, Kim Min-jae, and Hwang In-beom, but they lost a close game that went into overtime.
This tournament is no different. Despite the presence of Germany’s Jung Woo-young (Stuttgart), Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) midfielder Lee Kang-in, Belgium’s Hong Hyun-seok (KAA Gent), and K League’s iconic wings Uhm Won-sang (Ulsan Hyundai) and Song Min-gyu (Jeonbuk Hyundai), the match is hard to predict until the lid is lifted.
Ahead of the fateful match between Korea and Japan, the mood is that South Korea must win the gold medal for whatever reason.
Japan’s Saker Digest said on June 6, “If you look at the objective history of Korea and Japan, it’s true that Korea has the edge. However, in the final of the 2018 tournament, Japan, which was centered on college-aged players, fought an overtime battle (Korea won 2-1) against South Korea, which had a stellar roster that included Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich), and Hwang Eui-jo (Norwich City). “We’ll only know when we open the lid,” he said, insisting that there was no point in making early predictions until the game started.
A Japanese netizen commented on a Football Zone reporter’s article with a similar sentiment. “The purpose of the tournament is to train players for the J-League and university players,” said one user, adding that the tournament is meaningful regardless of the outcome.
“First of all, the goal is to win, but I hope they analyze their opponents thoroughly, win or lose. Some of these players can shine as professionals. I hope some of them can make the leap to the world stage and the A team. The color of the medal is not important. I want it to be a stepping stone to the next stage,” he said, cheering on the Japanese players.