Hwang Sun-hong’s U-22 soccer team avoided the worst, but the jitters didn’t go away.
South Korea defeated Kyrgyzstan 1-0 on Monday at the Changwon Football Center in their second Group B match of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 안전카지노사이트 Asian Cup 2024 qualifiers. The victory moved South Korea to the top of Group B, but it didn’t put to rest the ongoing controversy over their performance.
Hwang Sun-hong was desperate to clear his name. After losing 0-2 to Qatar in the first match of the tournament on June 6, the team was criticized for its lackluster performance, which consisted of wide ball-to-ball spacing and monotonous attacking tactics.
Luckily, Qatar is the host of the Asian Cup, so the result won’t count against them, but it was an unacceptable defeat considering Korea’s quality and home advantage. With the tournament doubling as the Asian qualifier for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the game against Kyrgyzstan was a must-win.
South Korea dominated from the start, taking a 1-0 lead in the third minute of the first half off a sharp cross from Jung Sang-bin (Minnesota United) and a finish from Hong Yun-sang (Pohang Steelers). However, they were unable to extend their lead. Despite dominating the game, Korea lacked a detailed offensive game plan. Instead, they were caught flat-footed by Kyrgyzstan’s intermittent counterattacks.
They won, but it left a sour taste. South Korea fielded players who are currently playing in the K League, including Kim Shin-jin, Baek Sang-hoon, Lee Tae-seok (FC Seoul), and Hong Yun-sang. They also had overseas players Kwon Hyuk-kyu (Celtic) and Jung Sang-bin, who were one step ahead of their opponents.
We shouldn’t just focus on winning. It’s encouraging to move into first place with a win. It’s encouraging to move to the top of the standings and take some of the pressure off the team by going straight to the Asian Cup. However, South Korea’s goal is not just to qualify. They are also looking at tickets to the Paris Olympics, which will be awarded to the top three finishers in the Asian Cup, and Olympic propaganda. Hwang Sun-hong will have to come up with a way to look forward to the final match against Myanmar on Wednesday, not only for the result, but also for the Olympics.