South Korea’s men’s handball team, looking to qualify for the Olympic Games for the first time in 12 years, faces ‘nemesis’ Japan at a crucial juncture.
The Korean men’s handball team, led by head coach Hollande Freitas, will take on Japan in the quarterfinals of the Asian Qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games on Sunday at 2 a.m. KST.
The winner of the tournament will go straight to Paris, while the runner-up will qualify for the World Championships in March next year. To continue their quest for an Olympic berth after a 12-year absence, they must beat Japan to reach the final.
The players would rather face the Japanese than the more physically fit Middle Eastern teams.
Team captain Kim Dong-wook (26) said, “Japan is the opponent we wanted. We are confident in our mental strength,” he said.
The head-to-head record also proves the players’ confidence. South Korea has won 23 matches against Japan in official competitions, with two wins, two draws and three losses.
However, Japan has been on a tear at the tournament, knocking off powerhouses like Bahrain and Iran to reach the quarterfinals.
Kim Dong-wook said, “Japan is a fast team. We are no slouch in speed either, so I think it will be a battle of mental strength,” said Kim.
At 193 centimeters tall and 145 kilograms, Kim Dong-wook has been one of the most dominant goalkeepers in the tournament, using his size and quickness to his advantage. In the last group game against China, he made 10 saves to help his team win.
“I think we need to play better than we did against China to win,” Kim said, “and I’m determined to prevent the team from losing.”
Desperation for the Olympics is also a driving force behind his performance. “Honestly, I was thinking, ‘Will I be able to compete in the Olympics until I retire?” said Kim Dong-wook, adding that he hopes to fulfill his dream through this match. 토토사이트
The quarterfinal match between South Korea and Japan is scheduled for 8 p.m. local time in Qatar, so many Korean students are expected to cheer.
Kim Dong-wook promised a must-win, saying, “I will try to win unconditionally with confidence, not effort, so that the athletes can win in style with the support of the Korean people.”