178㎝ Short center back ‘header final goal’…University student Choi Seok-hyun leads ‘Atonement’ to quarterfinals

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Kim Eun-jung-ho scored the game-winning goal to send South Korea to the quarterfinals, and it was 5-foot-10 center back Choi Seok-hyun (Dankook University) who scored the winning goal.

Choi scored his first goal of the tournament against Ecuador in the round of 16 of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 at the Santiago del Estero Stadium in Santiago, Argentina, at 6 a.m. ET on June 2, scoring the game-winning goal in South Korea’s 3-2 victory and advancement to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

He headed in a corner kick from Lee Seung-won (Gangwon FC) in the third minute of the second half with South Korea leading 2-1. His exquisite positioning allowed him to avoid a defender and get to the ball before the goalkeeper could punch it away. Choi celebrated with a heart-shaped gesture with his hands.

The goal was all the more precious because Choi, who is 178 centimeters tall according to the Korea Football Association (KFA), is small for a center back. His center back partner Kim Ji-soo (Seongnam FC) is 189 centimeters and backup center back Hwang In-taek (Seoul Eland) is 181 centimeters. Despite his relatively short stature, Kim jumped up and rattled the opponent’s goal with a precise header, which was all the more meaningful because it ended up being the winning goal in the 3-2 victory.

It was also a “penance” for his sending off in the previous group game against Honduras. He was shown a red card for accumulating two cautions in Honduras and missed the final match against The Gambia. While the blow was less severe after the Honduras game as the team qualified for the round of 16, it could have been devastating for the team if they had to win the Gambia game, but the goal made him smile.안전놀이터

Choi is one of only two college players in the U-20 World Cup roster, along with goalkeeper Kim Jung-hoon (Korea University). He was the only college student in the starting lineup. He went to Ulsan Hyundai Joong-Hyundai High School and then to Dankook University after being drafted by Ulsan Hyundai. Despite playing in the collegiate league, Kim was consistently called upon by the coach and made the leap to the main squad at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-20 Asian Cup. He even scored the winning goal in the quarterfinals of the U-20 World Cup, marking him out as another talent to watch.

On that day, Kim Jung-ho scored back-to-back goals from Lee Young-joon (Gimcheon Commerce) and Bae Joon-ho (Daejeon Hana Citizen), plus a late strike from Choi Seok-hyun, to defeat Ecuador 3-2, making history as the first South Korean to reach the quarterfinals of two consecutive U-20 World Cups, following Jung Jung-yong-ho at the 2019 tournament. They will now face Nigeria in the semifinals. The match will take place at 2:30 a.m. on June 5 at the Santiago del Estero Stadium in Argentina.

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