Three teams enjoying special summer of world finals
The U-20 World Cup quarter-finals and Women’s World Cup begin 7 June
Korea Republic, USA and Italy are still competing in both world finals
USA's Chris Durkin: "It’s an important time for our nation"
As the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 restarts with enticing last-eight action on Friday, another global finals will kick off over 1,500km across western Europe.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 is poised to be the most scintillating edition of the competition to date, and for three nations the overlap of the two tournaments marks a significant achievement.
USA, Korea Republic and Italy are each represented at France 2019, while also having reached the Poland 2019 quarter-finals. For these countries, the possibility of a summer double remains within reach. The U-20 World Cup began with ten countries that also qualified for France 2019.
"This is the first time reaching the quarter-finals for every player in our team," Korea Republic U-20 captain Hwang Taehyeon told FIFA.com. "This moment with my team-mates and all the staff is something extraordinary. I feel so blessed and grateful to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience. But it is not over yet."
All three youth men’s sides advanced to the last eight via one-goal victories in the Round of 16. Gli Azzurrini were the first through, dispatching hosts Poland 1-0. The Stars and Stripes and Taeguk Warriors both netted late winners to eliminate France and Japan, respectively.
“We expected to get to this stage," USA midfielder Chris Durkin told FIFA.com. "Our goal from the start was to make it to the finals and win the tournament. We’re still on the right track. We’re growing and learning more about each other every game.”
Across the continent, Korea Republic will take on the France 2019 hosts in the opening match at the Parc des Princes. Italy, who qualified for the Women’s World Cup for the first time in 20 years, make their tournament debut on Sunday against Australia. Three-time champions USA meet Thailand on 11 June in Reims.
"Being able to participate in these World Cups is a huge honour," said Taehyeon. "At the same time, it is proof that Korean football can compete not only in Asia, but also against teams all around the world."
Both Taehyeon and Durkin expressed excitement to follow their countries quests for glory in France, and while they admitted to being fans of every player, each pointed out whom they were especially looking forward to following.
“One player that I like is Mallory Pugh," said Durkin. "Obviously she’s a younger player; very skilful and fun to watch. Also Carli Lloyd is one of the really big leaders on the team. I’m sure the younger women on that team really look up to her."
"The captain, Cho Sohyun, has always been my favourite player," Taehyeon said. "When I see her play, I can see the reason why she is a captain. Her spirit and attitude towards the game is inspiring. She’s not afraid of anything."
Will we see one country become world champions twice over in the span of less than a month? The answer will become clearer as the U-20 World Cup unfolds and the Women's World Cup gets under way.
“This is an important time for our nation; we can draw inspiration from them through their success," Durkin said of the USA women. "We hope to be as dominant one day as they are. We can learn a lot from them and the mentality they bring to each game.”