Yet another unconvincing result for Korea, nearly an embarrassing scoreless draw with the Kiwis but for a late attack – Kim Bo-Kyung’s shot deflected, rebound to Lee Jae-Sung, the newcomer collects it to net the winner in the 86th minute. It’s his first KNT goal in only his 2nd cap and the youngster now looks to have a bright international future ahead. For Cha Du-Ri, who left in the 42nd minute after giving his final performance in the 1st half, one of the last remaining members of the historic World Cup class of 2002, he rides into the sunset as a winner.
We await player ratings and a more thorough review of the by Jinseok. Meanwhile here’s the winning goal and Cha’s reaction:
Tavern Owner on the run, but I can add that Cha was in beast mode yet again, charging down the right with bravado. His cross to Han Kyo-Won nearly connected for an early goal. But with 3 minutes left before the half, his time was up and he handed the captain’s armband to Ki Sung-Yeung. The old man left to Seoul’s thunderous applause and was visibly emotional. He gave a halftime speech and was in tears when his father, the legend, Cha Bum-Kun met him at the halfway line to deliver flowers for his final KNT bow.
The only mar was the fact Korea didn’t score while Cha was on. Han Kyo-Won, who was subpar most of the match, was played in by Ki towards the end of the half but cut down by the charging Kiwi goalkeeper. Penalty kick awarded and Son Heung-Min took the PK, but the keeper read his thoughts and blocked the shot low to the left [update: reports indicate PK was offered for Cha to take. He refused and Son ended up taking it. I haven’t seen him take too many PK’s. Should Ki be the designated PK taker? Questions to ponder another time]. Ji Dong Won’s header moments later looked on it’s way in, but the Kiwi keeper was on fire and somehow kept it out of the net. Missed opportunities in the first half prevented Cha from leaving with a lead. Ever the encouraging presence, he was gracious and humble in his speech to the Seoul World Cup crowd at halftime. For the 14 years of service, thank you Cha Du-Ri.
Last note, a win was expected, but this was quite an unconvincing one at that. Credit a young New Zealand squad, they look to be on the ups -and not just in Oceania. For the surrounding Asian region, improvements in competition is good news. For now, a work in progress as Uli Stielike continues to revamp Team Korea. From the looks of it, a lot of work needed.
On a side note, Japan thrashed Uzbekistan 5-1. Is that the same Uzbek lineup that Korea faced last Friday in their 1-1 draw? Good result for the Blue Samurais, questions for team Korea in terms of clinical finishing, among other things they need improvement on…