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South Korea’s Asian Cup rollercoaster: from high prospects to crushing tie with Malaysia

South Korea’s Asian Cup rollercoaster: from high prospects to crushing tie with Malaysia

Deafening uproars from both sides of the field characterized Korea’s football match against Malaysia. The South Korean team arrived in Qatar for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup this month as one of the highest prospects; however, a couple of games later, it was difficult for them to be considered a championship contender. The South Korean team’s mediocrity was accentuated on Jan. 24, when South Korea tied with Malaysia after an intense back-and-forth game. A top-tier football team like Korea was visibly having difficulty penetrating past Malaysia’s defenders; this situation only worsened after halftime.


“I honestly don’t know what to say other than that I’m disappointed,” Yool Choi (10), varsity soccer player, said. “Tying with a team like Malaysia says a lot about our team chemistry and mechanics. The tie felt like a loss.”


South Korea scored the first goal 21 minutes into the game when Korean striker and midfielder Jeong Woo-yeong’s corner kick sent the ball right into Malaysia’s keeper, Syihan Hazmi. The goal was initially thought to have been saved by the keeper, but later video footage showed that the ball had in fact crossed the line. Malaysia quickly scored six after, tying the score 1-1. The rest of the match consisted of smaller plays and skirmishes.


11 minutes after their first goal, Malaysia took the lead by scoring a penalty shot after winger Arif Aiman was fouled in the box by Seol Young-woo. Korea later tied the match when Lee Kang-in’s corner kick placed the ball in a precarious position, resulting in Hazmi’s attempt at a save being registered as an own goal. With the score at 2-2, both teams made bolder plays. When Korea entered Malaysia’s defensive line, Oh Hyeon-gyu was rammed between two Malaysian defenders while vying for the ball. Son Hyeung-min ended up taking the penalty shot on behalf of the injured Oh Hyeon-Gyu, propelling the ball right into the left side of the goal. South Korea was once again in the lead by 3-2.


“The only thing South Korea needed to do there was to get on the defensive,” Alex Jeong (10), red devil, said. “Instead of going through with a risky offensive play and tiring out the players, the logical thing to do was to bolster the defensive line. For some reason, the South Korean team went on the offensive even more.”


It was during one of these aggressive plays that Malaysia was able to get the better of Korea’s defenders. Malaysia striker, Romel Morales, scored from just outside the penalty area after taking possession of the ball from faulty South Korean ball control.


“I think this really says a lot about the future of the South Korean soccer team,” Minjae Choi (10), varsity soccer player, said. “Our team is going to have to undergo a lot of training to improve these results, perhaps changing the lineup or composition of the team.”


After Korea’s match with Malaysia, the South Korean soccer team played off against Australia and Jordan.  When playing with the Australian team, Korea was able to get the upper hand on multiple ball confrontations by strategically contesting for the ball, something that was reserved in the Malaysian game. The match ended 2-1 with Korea’s victory; Hwang Hee-Chan, a forward, scored a penalty shot, and Son Heung-min made a free-kick. The lineup was much better this time around. The South Korean team played around their strengths, opting for a 4-2-3-1 formation as compared to their previous 4-4-2 stance. South Korea’s Asian Cup journey ended when the South Korean team lost 2-0 in their game against Jordan. Korea fell victim to the same issue that plagued them in the Malaysian game. Korea made a total of zero shots on goal even though they possessed the ball 70 percent of the time. Many Korean soccer fans look forward to this lack of aggression being addressed in future matches. Despite, facing disappointments and challenges, the South Korean team must now focus on fixing these defensive vulnerabilities and improving their offensive plays to once again become a championship contender.

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About the Contributor
Colin Park, Reporter
Colin Park is a sophomore reporter for Tiger Times Online. Born in Bellevue, Washington, Colin is fond of slow-paced suburban life. He enjoys skiing and ice-fishing during the winter.

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