Korean Football Association bows in apology for missing the Olympics

By Trung Thu   April 26, 2024 | 06:55 pm PT
The Korean Football Association (KFA) has apologized to fans after the U23 team failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 1984.

"We would like to express our deepest apologies to football fans, players, and the public for failing to advance to the Paris Olympics finals due to the loss in the quarterfinals of the 2024 AFC U23 Asian Cup," the KFA said in a Friday announcement.

Coach Hwang Sun-hong’s South Korea U23 team lost 10-11 to Indonesia in the penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw in 120 minutes on Thursday. Only the champions, runners-up, and third-place team will directly qualify for the Paris Olympics, while the fourth-placed team will face Africa’s Guinea in an inter-continental play-off.

South Korean players react after losing to Indonesia in penalty shootout in the U23 Asian Cup quarterfinals in Qatar, April 25, 2024. Photo by AFC

South Korean players react after losing to Indonesia in penalty shootout in the U23 Asian Cup quarterfinals in Qatar, April 25, 2024. Photo by AFC

The result snapped South Korea's streak of nine consecutive appearances in men's Olympic football since 1984, when the national team used to represent the country. Since age restrictions were introduced in 1992, only U23 teams with a maximum of three overaged players per squad have been allowed to compete.

"The coaching staff and players all did their best to try to qualify for our 10th consecutive Olympic Games, but unfortunately, we didn't accomplish our goal," the KFA said.

"We fully understand that the responsibility lies with us at the KFA, as we are in charge of developing and supporting national teams. We’d like to offer our sincere apology to all football fans for our failure to qualify."

South Korea previously failed to win the 2023 Asian Cup after losing 0-2 to Jordan in the semifinals. In addition, the team were plagued by internal conflict, which culminated in the bust-up between Son Heung-min and Lee Kang-in. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann was fired while KFA President Chung Mong-gyu had to hold a press conference and apologize to the media and fans after the tournament.

South Korean newspaper Xports News said: "The failure to advance to the finals of the Paris Olympics is shocking."

According to Osen, three figures who should be primarily responsible for the failure of the South Korea U23 team are KFA President Chung Mong-gyu, Head of the National Team Committee Chung Hae-seong, and coach Hwang Sun-hong. The wave of demands for Chung Mong-gyu's resignation, like when South Korea suffered failure at the Asian Cup earlier this year, has once again risen.

The Football List revealed that Hwang Sun-hong might be appointed the national team head coach only if he could take the U23 team to the Olympics. However, this failure will likely tilt the KFA towards one of the seven foreign candidates.

2024 U23 Asian Cup quarterfinals: South Korea vs Indonesia

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