Team Hwang Seon-hong’s solver Lee Young-jun takes aim at Japan’s goal.

At 10 p.m. on the 22nd (Korean time), Korea and Japan will play the third round of Group B of the 2024 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U23 Asian Cup at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar.

Korea had a much higher possession rate against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China in the first and second group matches, but struggled to create tactically sophisticated scoring opportunities. Concentrating on crosses following side attacks, he attempted 63 crosses and shot 30 times during the two games, but only had 6 effective shots, or 3 per game.

Lee Young-Jun’s decision-making ability, which took advantage of the few opportunities, led Korea to advance to the tournament. Lee Young-Jun came on as a halftime substitute in the first game against UAE and scored the winning goal in the 4th minute of added time in the second half. He hit Lee Tae-seok’s corner kick with his head and hit the net.

He started and scored multiple goals in the second match against China. In the 34th minute of the first half, he entered the right side of the penalty box, received a pass from Kang Sang-yoon, and finished with a calm right-footed shot. In the 24th minute of the second half, he worked with Lee Tae-seok once again, following the first game. He scored by connecting Lee Tae-seok’s ground ball cross with a left-footed shot. Lee Young-Jun used his head, right foot, and left foot to score 3 goals, requiring only 3 effective shots.

Korea’s next opponent is Japan. It is a match with the nature of a battle of revenge. Team Hwang Seon-hong also met Japan in the quarterfinals of the 2022 U23 Asian Cup two years ago, but lost 0-3. Mao Hosoya, who scored at the time, also participated in this tournament.

t is also the deciding match for first place in the group between the two teams that recorded 2 wins, 3 goals, and no goals in the 1st and 2nd games. The first place in Group B will meet coach Shin Tae-yong’s Indonesia, second place in Group A, and the second place team in Group B will meet the host country Qatar, first place in Group A, in the quarterfinals. According to AFC regulations, if the third match between two teams that are tied in points, goal difference, and number of goals ends in a draw, a penalty shoot-out will be held to determine first place in the group. To win within 90 minutes, you must score. Another striker, Ahn Jae-jun, is known to be in poor condition, so Lee Young-jun has a heavy burden on his shoulders.

Lee Young-jun, who scored three goals in two games, is also challenging scoring records in several competitions. He is tied with Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Radif and Ayman Yahia for the most goals in the tournament with three goals, so he is within striking distance of being the top scorer. So far, the only Korean player to win the top scorer at the U23 Asian Cup was Cho Young-wook (3 goals) in the 2022 tournament.

The record for most goals in a single competition is 6 goals scored by Qatari players. Ahmed Alaeldin scored 6 goals in 2016 and Almoez Ali scored 6 goals in 2018. Among Korean players, Kwon Chang-hoon scored the most goals in one tournament. He scored 5 goals in 6 games in the 2016 tournament.

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