No Quarter Given

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar June 11, 2019 19:09

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No Quarter Given

By Satish Sekar in Guimarães © Satish Sekar (June 8th 2019)

Mountains to Climb

Johan Carbonero’s red card for a reckless tackle on Ukraine’s Denys Popov less than 5 minutes before the scheduled end of play ended Colombia’s resistance. Los Cafeteros never recovered from the defensive lapse after 11 minutes. Kevin Mier’s weak clearance put Carlos Cuesta under pressure, resulting in Colombia’s skipper losing possession to Danylo Sikan, who went on to score.

Ukraine will face Italy in the first semi-final on June 11th in Gdinya. The Gli Azzurri defeated Mahmatou Kané’s African champions 4-2. Mali could not recover from a disastrous start that saw Ibrahima Koné put into his own net after 12 minutes and a bad foul by Ousmane Diakité on Luca Pellegrini punished with a red card after 21.

Sékou Koita dismissed any notion that Italy would have an easy passage by equalising with 6 minutes of the first half remaining. Andrea Pinamonti’s brace ultimately settled the match. The first after an hour was followed after 83 minutes from the penalty spot after Mohamed Camara had equalised four minutes earlier. There was still time for Davide Frattesi to extend Italy’s lead and for Mali to squander a chance to make the last seconds fraught due to a penalty that Koita had won and taken being well saved by Italian keeper Alessandro Plizzari.

The USA could not repeat their heroics against France. Uruguay’s conquerors, Ecuador, beat them 2-1. The bearer of a famous footballing name, Weah, equalised for the CONCACAF champions after 39 minutes, but Tim’s close-range volley was not enough. Six minutes earlier José Cifuentes’ excellent strike gave Ecuador the lead. Two minutes before half time Jhon Espinoza settled the match and consigned the USA to another failure – they have never reached the semi-finals.

Making History

The final place in the semi-finals was seized by Korea Republic after a dramatic match ended 3-3 to be followed by an equally dramatic penalty shootout. Leading 2-0 Sénégal’s Young Teranga Lions imploded to lose 3-2.

Cavin Diagne gave the West-Africans the lead after 37 minutes. South Korea equalised from the penalty spot after 62 minutes. The foul on Lee Jisol allowed Lee Kangin the opportunity to peg Sénégal back. Youssouf Dabo’s side regained the lead after a penalty given by VAR had to be retaken after the Korean keeper, Lee Gwangyeon moved off his line too soon. Ibrahima Niane made him pay.

Sénégal held on to their lead until virtually the last kick of the 8 minutes of added time – Jisol’s header taking the thrilling match to extra time. The pendulum had swung as the young Koreans took the lead 6 minutes into extra time through Cho Youngwook, but there was a further twist as Amadou Ciss levelled with seconds remaining.

The Young Teranga Lions spurned the opportunity to capitalise on Korea Republic’s failure to score either of their first two penalties when Mamdou Mbow failed to score at 1-0. Amadou Ciss restored the lead, but Choi Jun levelled and Dialy Ndiaye not only saw his penalty saved, but was yellow carded as well. Oh Sehun put the Koreans ahead and Cavin Diagne missed to send the Taeguk Warriors through to the semi-final in Lublin against Ecuador on June 11th.

History Awaits

If Korea Republic beat Ecuador, they will become the first Asian team in the current format to reach the final. In 1981 Qatar became the first Asian team to reach the final of the World Youth Championship, losing 4-0 to West Germany, none of whom went on to become household names.
18 years later Japan lost to Spain by the same score – a team that included World Cup and European Championship winners, Iker Casillas, Xavi Hernández and Carlos Machena.

South Korea is guaranteed to at least equal their best previous performance – they finished 4th in 1983. Ecuador has never reached the semi-finals previously – this is the first time they have competed as South American champions and will be their best performance in the Under-20 World Cup too.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar June 11, 2019 19:09