September 25, 2012
So it’s just a U-16 game you might say. Except that it’s South Korea v Japan and a Haniljeon is a Haniljeon. I have to admit, this U-16 AFC Championship in Tehran was completely off my radar, and I would’ve completely missed it were it not for a Baek Ho tweet. The Taeguk Warrior mascot tossed this up on Sunday:
우리 어린 태극전사들이 이란 테헤란에서 열린 2012 AFC U-16 챔피언십에 출전하여 북한을 상대로 1 대 0으로 전반전을 마쳤다고 합니다. 이란까지 날아가진 못했지만 마음만은 태극전사들과 함께랍니다!! 다들 함께 응원해요!!ㅎ ^^
— Baek Ho (@KFABaekho) September 23, 2012
Translated: South Korea beat North Korea 3-0 in their first match for Group C and the tournament is underway. Right -so Tavern is getting caught up to date. Hwang Hee-Chan seems to be a scoring machine, getting the hat trick with our neighbors to the north. Placed together with Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and Japan, group stage in this tournament meant Haniljeon-time this morning (like 5:30 EST early. ugh).
This morning’s result: South Korea 3 – Japan 1. First half South Korea came out swinging: 13 minutes in, Hwang Hee-Chan swept the ball into the net after a series of lighting fast tiki-taka-esque passes. However it wasn’t long before Hiroki Ogawa knocked in the equalizer. After some rough patches shown by both sides, Korea settled things down and took control midway through the half. They displayed a good bit of offensive swagger, culminating in a 42nd minute super-fine Hwang In-Beom pass that found Choi Ju-Yong up front. He blasted it past Nagasawa Yuya and South Korea led 2-1 at the half.
Tale of 2 halves however; Japan got into gear and dominanted throughout the latter half. They were winning the ball and constantly threatening with crisp precise passing. The Taeguk Warriors scrambled in a less than graceful defense with the lead looking tenuous at times. Ogawa was able to find enormous space -getting some good shots away and hit the post twice. Near the corner, Mizutami Takuma deftly got around a Korean defender to get a dangerous shot on goal. Korean goalkeeper Kim Hyoung-Jung came up with some huge saves, particularly in the 65 minute when Kim blocked Mizutani’s shot, and got the double save a moment later when Yuki Aizu tried to head in the rebound. The Taeguk Warriors showed real difficulty putting together enough successful passes to construct any meaningful offense -swagger gone. As the game was about to wind up in stoppage time, Korea was awarded a free kick about 25 yards out. Hwang was set to take the set piece when Ko Min-Hyeok surprised Japan by taking the shot instead. It curled in past the outstretched arms of Yuya and wrapped up the game 3-1. Here’s the group standings right now (Saudi Arabia and North Korea are playing as I write this).