“The fact that our opponent is Japan is reason enough to win.”
The South Korean Asian Games team, led by Hwang Sun-hong, will face Japan in the final of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games at the Huanglong Sports Center Stadium in Hangzhou, China on Sunday (June 7).
South Korea reached the round of 16 after going undefeated through three group games, defeating Kyrgyzstan, 온라인바카라 China and Uzbekistan to reach the final. With just one game left to win the gold medal, the Koreans will face their nemesis, Japan.
On the sixth day before the game, the team gathered at the Huanglong Sports Center Auxiliary Stadium to train.
Prior to the training session, Seol Young-woo met with the media for an interview.
“Since we came to China, all the players, all the coaching staff, and the support staff have been united, and we have won a lot of games and suffered a lot to get here. Our last game is, as we all expected, against Japan and Korea. No matter how much we think about it, there are too many reasons to win, and we are preparing well with the confidence that we can win unconditionally. We will go for the gold medal unconditionally,” he said.
Seol Young-woo added, “I think there are many reasons, but the opponent is Japan. I think that’s enough reason for us to win unconditionally,” he said.
The team has played several matches in a short period of time. “I think the best thing about our team is that it doesn’t really matter who’s on the outside or who’s on the inside. I think we rotated really well from the preliminary round, and the result was the same in the quarterfinals, where we felt we had a little more energy than our opponents,” said Seol.
“I think it will be the same in the final, so I don’t think there’s any problem with physical fitness,” he said.
This time around, Japan had 10 of its 22 players, nearly half of them university students. But they’re not letting their guard down. “As a team, tactically, we’ve been working out today, and tomorrow we’ll have a meeting, and our analyst will send us videos of our opponents. We talk about how young they are, but we don’t think about that at all.”
Seol Young-woo added, “Japan’s style of play is very passing and everyone has good fundamentals. I think they will play the exact opposite of Uzbekistan. We’ve seen a lot of Japanese soccer and know a lot about it, so we have to prepare for that,” he said, adding that they have a good grasp of Japanese soccer.
“I don’t think I actually remember playing against Japan in the national team. Speaking of Japan, I only remember meeting them in my team’s ACL,” he said. “Even then, just the fact that they were Japanese gave me a lot of fighting spirit, and they were the opponents I wanted to beat unconditionally.”
Seol Young-woo continued, “I want to win something even more than when we met in the team, because we met again at such a crucial time with a flag on our chests. It’s the final, so it’s either silver or gold. I can’t imagine losing to Japan, and I don’t want to. I’m thinking about winning no matter what,” he said, adding that he is only thinking about winning.
He continued, “All the players came here with the idea that ‘we have to be number one or nothing’. As you all know, I’m thinking that if I don’t finish first, then honestly, there’s no point in this tournament. I don’t think there’s any other way to win.”
“I was actually selected as a wild card, and now that I’m here, I joined the team later than my friends, so I always feel a little bit sorry for myself,” said Seol.
Seol Young-woo continued, “It’s true that I had a lot of feelings that I couldn’t get along with the team’s tactics or the players on the team because I didn’t live with them much, but now I’ve gotten to this point because we’re all good together. I think I’ve experienced the big stage a little bit more than they have because I’ve played for the A team. Tomorrow is an important game, so I think there will be some parts where the players will be stiff, and I think I need to give them a lot of positive words and instill a lot of confidence that they can do well,” he said, vowing to take on the role of wild card and big brother.
The last match against Uzbekistan was much rougher than expected. Uhm Won-sang was nursing a sprained ankle. On the day of the match, Uhm Won-sang showed up at the training center and was able to practice.
“I think it was a little rougher than I expected, but I think our players played a lot of cleverly rather than being really sick. Overall, (Um) Won-sang is the only one we have to wait and see. I actually have a shoulder that keeps coming out, and it came out in that match, so I think I’ll be fine. All the players are in good shape,” he said.
In the last edition of the tournament, Korea and Japan battled to extra time in the final. Seol said, “I’m thinking about finishing in 90 minutes. We haven’t gone to overtime once in this tournament. Actually, we played better than we thought we would, and we got all the good results. The confidence is really good. We don’t want to let that confidence turn into complacency, but we want to control ourselves as much as possible and finish the game in 90 minutes,” he said.