Israel takes 3rd with 3-1 win over South Korea

Jun 11, 2023 | Football

The Israel Under-20 team ended its World Cup run in fine fashion as the young blue-and-blue defeated South Korea 3-1 to take 3rd place in the prestigious tournament. With the victory, head coach Ofir Haim’s squad not only took home a bronze medal for their fabulous campaign but also provided many thrill for the fans back in the Holy Land, the local Jewish community in Argentina as well friends of Israel from around the world.

Israel came into the game without five of their star players that had helped the team get to the semifinals where they ultimately succumbed to Uruguay 1-0. Prior to the third place game, the Israel Football Association decided that Roy Revivo would join the senior national team ahead of their games against Belarus and Andorra while Tomer Tzarfati, Or Israelov, Stav Lemkin and Dor Turgeman headed to the Under-21 European Championship being held in Georgia.

Despite being without five of their main players, Haim was able to still use his magic as he has done the entire tournament to surprise the footballing world once again with an unexpected podium finish.

Israel entered the third place game thanks to an incredible run that saw them defeat Japan deep into second half injury time, take out the Asian champions Uzbekistan and shock Brazil with an extra-time win as the blue-and-white made sure to end their time in Argentina on a high note.

Ran Binyamin put Haim’s charges on the board first with a mini-bicycle kick off a counter attack to give Israel a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute. However, five minutes later South Korea found the equalizer when Seung-Won Lee scored from the penalty spot following an Ilay Feingold foul. Israel looked for the go ahead marker just ahead of halftime as Feingold and Binyamin teamed up on a pair of chances but both came up short as the match headed into the break all knotted up at 1-1.

Binyamin’s 56th minute opportunity came up shirt while Omer Senior’s 70th minute goal was called back due to the play being offside as Israel continued to search to break the deadlock which is what they did five minutes later.

Anan Khalaili sent Senior a tremendous ball that the latter put behind the South Korean keeper to give the blue-and-white a 2-1 lead. Ten minutes after that, Khalaili himself scored the insurance marker to send the Israeli team into euphoria as they captured third place.

“This was a dream month,” Haim said following the game. “I believed that we would be able to go far. I’ve been away from home for over a month and I’m only used to being away maybe 8-10 days but for this it was worth it all. I want to thank everyone from the players, professional staff, medial personnel, the technical director Boni Ginzburg and the entire State of Israel that supported us. I’m proud of everyone, I have no words and there is no one prouder than me.”

“I heard the fans signing Hatilva in the 85th minute and I said that we had to win this game, I had goosebumps all over my body. They gave us the feeling that we were playing at home. I’m sure had the pitch been better at La Plata when we played Uruguay we could have won the World Cup. I really believe that, but right now it’s time to celebrate our third place finish.”

President Isaac Herzog tweeted following the game, “Congratulations to the Under-20 Israel National Football Team for their historic accomplishment, third place in the World Cup! You’ve completed an incredible journey and we are all so proud of you.”

The captain of the team Ilay Madmon also spoke about the team’s third place finish, “This is a crazy accomplishment, we all feel absolutely incredible. After we lost in the semifinals we were very upset because we knew that we could have gone all the way and win this tournament. But even though we lost we knew that we wanted to finish in third place and that would be a very good end to this campaign. We didn’t give up and I’m happy that we did it.”

Goal scorer Ran Binyamin also chimed in on the victory, “No one here understands yet what type of accomplishment this was. We came into this tournament with expectations but none of us beloved that we would get to this stage. I’m the happiest person in the world and I want to thank everyone for their support in every stadium that we played in as there were so many people there cheering us on. We may have not been with five key players but there was belief amongst the players who hadn’t played much as they were hungry to play and came into the game with a tremendous amount of motivation.”

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