Canberra Stadium, Australia
FT whistle blew only minutes ago, first game goes to Korea in their first group stage match against Oman. However, the 1-0 narrow win looked unconvincing in Korea’s bid to win the Asia Cup for the first time since 1960.
It’s very late here at the Tavern, so we’ll update later with more details on the match but a few key points before we close up. But here’s one update, a video highlight reel of the match:
South Korea Starting | Kim JH / Kim JS, Jang HS, Kim JY, Kim CS / Park JH, Ki SY, Son HM, Koo JC, Lee CY / Cho YC
— Korea Football News (@KORFootballNews) January 10, 2015
An early injury to Kim Chang-soo took him out unexpectedly in the first half.
Korea’s passing was disjointed and they were not able to connect well enough to produce enough credible chances. Stoppage time -right before the half, Lee Chung-Yong picks off a wayward Oman pass, lays it off for a charging Koo Ja-Choel. He drives it forward and takes a shot at goal. Al Habsi, who was in excellent form having swatted away a number of Korean shots, parried Koo’s strike, but Cho Young-Cheol was in good position, slides in the rebound to punt the ball into the net. Some may look at the goal and announce he’s back in the good graces of the KNT. However, he was so invisible in the first half, other than what the scoresheet indicated, I’m not sure how much he can contribute to the cause going forward in the tournament….
2nd half Korea came out brightly, looked sharper, passing crisp, defense gaining in confidence. They were in full control in every way, except for finding the back of the net. Oman shifted with a 5 man backline and Korea puzzled over how to break through for the 2nd insurance goal. They came close several times, but no cigar. Cho Young-Chol eventually made way for Lee Jung-Hyub, but the goal scorer from the Saudi warm up game wasn’t able to get into sync, flubbing his opportunity after Son found him with space on the left of the Oman goal post.
Then it happened: Lee Chung-yong’s legs was mangled and he was on the ground in agony, the result of a hazardous tackle by an Oman defenseman. He kept playing but it was clearly bothering him and a few minutes later collapsed in pain, He was placed on a stretcher and carried off. Han Kyo-Wan replaced him, but Korea wasn’t the same after he left. Kim Jin-su, while he played the full 90, also was visibly hobbled in the latter part of the game.
Oman was allowed to get back into the game as Korea couldn’t find further insurance and led to tense moments late in the game…
Was Korea playing too direct? That’s a question we’ll leave for later as the Tavern owner is starting to hallucinate with it being 3am here. Evelyn Kim will add a more proper match recap later. We’ll also try to update with Lee Chung-Yong and Kim Chang-soo’s injury status as well as video highlights when they become available.
Update 1: A KFA official has said that both Kim Chang-soo and Lee Chung-yong both suffered bruises during the match, and that neither injury is serious. Both could be available for the match against Kuwait, but they are not sure. Their fitness/progress will be monitored in training over the next couple days.
Wasn’t to say it was all discouraging -there were some bright moments, but overall the team was subpar. But the tournament has just begun – glass half full: Korea can build on this while their team chemistry improve. Glass half empty? yes, I drank the other half. Good night!
Update #2: not really an update but I just came across this interesting Asia Cup tidbit…Son Heung-Min’s first international goal came when he turned 18 and it happened in the 2011 edition of the Asia Cup tournament in Qatar. That game in particular was a group match against India, which they handily won 4-1. Other goals: 2 from Ji Dong-Won and one from Koo Ja-Cheol. Take a quick stroll down memory lane: