: Korea exits World Cup with stunning win over Germany
Korea's run at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia ended Wednesday with a stunning win over Germany in their final Group F match at the Kazan Arena.
The victory over the 2014 World Cup champions was totally unexpected. Ahead of the match against Germany, local football fans had given up on the Korean team after defeats by Sweden and Mexico earlier in the tournament. Korea lost to Sweden 1-0 in the Group F opener at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on June 18. They lost again to Mexico 2-1 at the Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don on June 24.
The two straight losses triggered huge disappointment and rage from Korean football fans. The Cheong Wa Dae online petition site was flooded with angry comments against some of the players and Korea's head coach Shin Tae-yong.
A win over Germany, ranked No.1 by FIFA and a traditional football powerhouse that has taken the World Cup four times, is surely a huge boost for the Taeguk Warriors, ranked 57th. Their best World Cup performance was a fourth place finish in the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup.
Defeating Germany has also given Koreans something to cheer about amid tough economic times. After the win, the local media splashed the news of Korea's victory. Germany has never lost to an Asian country at the World Cup. The Korean team deserves praise for not giving up until the end.
Although the Korean team failed to advance to the round of 16, they can be proud of their phenomenal win after Kim Young-gwon and Son Heung-min scored at the end of the match. The Korean team had received much criticism during their previous World Cup games for their lethargic play.
They definitely have a lot of work to do to catch up with the world's best teams, but their win over Germany showed they do not lack fighting spirit. "I saw a ray of hope after defeating the FIFA No. 1-ranked Germany," Shin said during a press conference. "There is much room for improvement and we have gained a positive mindset."
Korea will now prepare for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The Korea Football Association should establish winning strategies for the next one and eradicate old practices that have hampered the steady growth of Korean football.