Cho Kyu-sung missed two crucial chances and picked up an unnecessary yellow card. Central defender Jung Seung-hyun, who was shaky against Iraq in his final test match, was also the cause of a goal. Both players were also wasted in the win over Bahrain.
Jürgen Klinsmann’s South Korea men’s national team won their first match of the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup Group E with a 3-1 victory over Bahrain thanks to a multi-goal performance from Lee Kang-in at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar, at 8:30 p.m. ET on Friday.
The South Koreans, who are looking to return to the top of the Asian Cup 64 years after winning the tournament in 1960, will open their campaign against Bahrain with matches against Jordan on Tuesday and Malaysia on Friday. Bahrain is ranked 86th in the FIFA rankings, a far cry from Korea’s 23rd-ranked team.
In the 38th minute of the first half, South Korea took the lead when Lee Jae-sung sent in a low cutback cross from the left side that was deflected by a defender, and Hwang In-beom finished with a precise left-footed shot from just inside the box.
But six minutes into the second half, South Korea equalized. Bahrain’s Mohammed Malhoun cut in from the left and received a high 2-on-1 pass in the box, which deflected off defender Jung Seung-hyun and fell in front of Abdullah Al Hashashi, who split the Korean goal with a right-footed shot from the penalty spot.
It was a shocking 1-1 tie, but South Korea had Lee Kang-in. In the 11th minute of the second half, Lee Kang-in, who took over from Kim Min-jae’s pass to the center from the left, hit a bold left-footed mid-range shot from a central spot about 25 meters away from the goal with an exquisite trajectory that found the back of the net. 2-1.
In the 23rd minute of the second half, Lee Kang-in caught a pass from Son Heung-min and Hwang In-beom from the left side and calmly folded inside the box and scored with a left-footed shot to make the score 3-1 in favor of South Korea.
Cho Kyu-sung as a frontline striker was disappointing. He worked hard up front but didn’t stand out. In particular, he missed two crucial chances. In the 29th minute, Lee Jae-sung’s low, quick cross from the left gave Cho Kyu-sung a perfect no-mark opportunity with no defenders in front of him, but he leaned forward a bit more than the ball and couldn’t get his foot on the ball properly, sending it flying.
In the seventh minute of the second half, Lee Kang-in’s early cross from the right to the left was exquisitely played in front of Cho Kyu-sung, but he couldn’t get his right foot on it and missed the chance.
In the 16th minute of the second half, Cho was cautioned for contesting the defense in the attacking third, adding to the pressure on South Korea, who had already seen a number of yellow cards in the first half. Eventually, Klinsmann replaced Cho Kyu-sung with Hong Hyun-seok in the 27th minute of the second half due to his poor performance and cautions.
Jung Seung-hyun was also disappointing in the goal. Seung-hyun Jung, who was criticized for playing only the first half of the match against Iraq on June 6, was unable to find a drop-off point in the opponent’s 2-on-1 pass and gave up a no-mark shot. Luckily, the shot hit the body, but the deflected ball fell at the opponent’s feet, resulting in a goal.
In addition, in the 32nd minute, which was the most dangerous moment of the first half, he was in front of the opponent’s No. 7 striker but failed to follow through on a through ball, and if the shot was accurate, Korea would have taken the lead.
Despite the victory over Bahrain, Cho Kyu-sung and Jung Seung-hyun’s performances were disappointing.