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Monday, December 5, 2022


No regrets whatsoever for Korea following its most predictable defeat to uber favorite Brazil in the round of 16: the team held their ground with a very decent possession time and spectacular opportunities, even during that merciless jogo bonito / realism lesson of the first half, and made almost the best of their World Cup.

After an uninspiring draw against a very weak Uruguay, the Taeguk Warriors lost what was supposed to be their easiest game (allowing far too many goals from Ghana) before slaying Portugal's B team at the buzzer. If they came back twice from behind to survive their first round, they didn't collapse following Neymar Jr and friends' festival, which no team could have recovered from anyway.

Except for the first game, Paolo Bento's side built its opportunities and goals in a much more diverse and entertaining (not to mention less controversial) way than Guus Hiddink's commando*. For the first time in the ten World Cups I've been following Korea, I saw more style and confidence than resilience, the promises of an ambitious, sustainable playing identity. And I loved the way Bento, even as he knew he wouldn't stay, provided priceless experience to young talents in the second half. PAIK Seung-ho's awesome goal crowned perfectly Korea's 2022 World Cup, and if SON Heung-min may not join the party in 2026, KIM Kang-in,  HWANG Hee-chan, CHO Gyu-sung, and others already proved they could be leaders on the pitch.

Yes, this World Cup remains a total nonsense, an insult to sports, environment, human rights, you name it. And like every World Cup, this one remains opium for the people. But Korea badly needed this chase of the 2002 dragon right now. And it felt good to see its struggling youth party joyfully outdoor just weeks after the abominable tragedy in Itaewon.

Seoul Village 2022
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* which I absolutely adored, don't get me wrong!

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