May 30, 2023 09:20
Korea drew 0-0 with Gambia in its final group match of this year's FIFA U-20 World Cup in Mendoza, Argentina on Sunday.
Having already secured berths in the knockout stage, Korea and Gambia mostly fielded players who did not appear in the first and second group matches, in order to manage their squads' fitness.
Korea finished second in its group with five points from one win and two draws, after Gambia with seven points from two wins and one draw. It is the first time that Korea has advanced to the round of 16 without losing a match in the group stage at the biennial event.
It will face Ecuador in the round of 16 in Santiago del Estero on Thursday. At the previous U-20 World Cup in 2019, it beat the Latin American country 1-0 in the semifinals.
Ecuador also finished runner-up in its group with two wins and one loss but scored the most goals in the group stage with 11 -- though nine of them came against Fiji, regarded as one of the weakest teams.
Korea leads Ecuador in their head-to-head tally with three wins and one loss.
Meanwhile, Japan, which finished third in its group with one win and two losses, failed to reach the round of 16 as it was not among the four best third-place teams. This is the first time the country has been eliminated in the group stage since 2001.
The tournament features six groups of four countries, with the top two finishers from each group and the four best third-place teams advancing to the knockout stage.
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