South Korea advances to the Round of 16 with a 3-3 draw with Malaysia

Lee Gang-in scored a free kick in the 83rd minute of the Asia Cup group stage match between South Korea and Malaysia held at Al Janob Stadium in Qatar on Thursday. [NEWS1]

South Korea drew 3-3 with Malaysia in the postponed 2023 Asian Cup, ending the group stage with another disappointing result and advancing to the final tournament with just one win and two draws.

It was a tough night for Taegu Warriors at Al Janob Stadium in Qatar. What was supposed to be a one-sided match turned into a war of attrition, and it became clear that South Korea was not ready to fight.

South Korea, ranked 23rd in the world and the 3rd strongest team in Asia, got off to a slow start against Malaysia, ranked 130th in the world and the 23rd strongest team in Asia, and could not make a big impact. Until he headed home the opening goal.

South Korea remained in the lead for the first half, and just after the break, Faisal Halim leveled the score in the 51st minute.

A penalty 10 minutes later gave Malaysia a 2-1 lead, but South Korea could not fight back until the 83rd minute, when Lee Kang-in sent a free kick that bounced between the goalkeeper’s hands and the crossbar multiple times into the top right corner. decided. This is because it will be considered an own goal.

Captain Son Heung-min then put South Korea ahead at the start of stoppage time, scoring a penalty kick due to a foul on Oh Hyun-kyu, but Malaysia equalized in the 15th minute, and stoppage time, which was extended due to the influence of the match, ended in the 12th minute. It became. Penalty from earlier.

The final result was a landslide victory for Malaysia, guaranteeing them a place out of the tournament no matter what happens, but South Korea have fallen to second place and will face either Saudi Arabia or Thailand in the knockout stage, depending on Friday’s results. A match between both teams.

Despite another tough game, with South Korea defeating Bahrain 3-1 and ending the group stage with a 2-2 draw against Jordan, there was some good news for the Daegu Warriors.

Midfielder Hwang Hee-chan returned on Thursday, missing the first two games due to injury, but came on as a substitute in the 62nd minute against Malaysia.

Hwang’s return was immediately evident from the speed of South Korea’s attack, with head coach Jurgen Klinsmann starting the veteran midfielder in the knockout stages in place of Cho Geun-sung, who failed to make an impression in any of the three games. This is likely to mean that it can be done. so far.

Lee Kang-in, who has scored three of South Korea’s eight goals in the tournament so far, stepped up as both a key playmaker and goalscorer, proving once again how important he is to the team. Director Son felt it would be difficult to fulfill that role. He has man-marked in every game so far.

Starter Jung Woo-young, who came on as a substitute in the past two games, also proved effective, with the young midfielder sitting wider at the back than previously.

But concerns clearly remain. The Taegeuk Warriors easily made it through all three group stage matches and were expected to pick up three big wins instead of one win and two ties. The result is disappointing, especially in the knockout stages, where they will face much bigger opponents.

Part of the problem seems to be South Korea’s inability to adapt to a team that plays very deep defense. That’s likely to be the case for almost every team in Asia if they play against big names like Son, Hwang, and Lee. The Taegu Warriors don’t seem to have a strategy to defeat this strong defense and are regularly crumbled by their sheer numbers.

Another concern is on the other side of the pitch, with regular goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu absent due to injury and former No. 1 Cho Hyun-woo replacing him. Cho, who returned to his prime in the late 2010s, seems to lack Kim’s decisiveness in front of the goal, often stepping off the line, or starting to move too slowly in search of comfort already in this tournament. There were many.

Klinsmann and the South Korean squad will have five days to regroup before their Round of 16 match is scheduled for the evening of January 30th, or 1am on January 31st in South Korea.

Written by Jim Bouley []

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