The only goal from Masoud Shojaei in the 33th minute was enough to humiliate manager Cho Kwang-rae’s side.
|Korean national soccer team exits after losing 0-1 to Iran on Tuesday night. [Yonhap News]|
As he promised earlier, the 55-year-old manager deployed a new 3-4-3 formation with Park Chu-young in the middle, while the Bolton Wanderers winger Lee took the right flank as a shadow striker and Manchester United winger Park Ji-sung on the left. But the new formation didn't work.
Taeguk Warriors, though, started the game nicely with a relentless attack that left the visitors stunned. Only two minutes into the first half, Korea had a golden opportunity to take the lead.
Park Chu-yong picked a loose ball from the middle and laid a perfect pass to unmarked Lee Chung-yong, but to Korea’s dismay his close-range shot struck the goalie’s leg and bounced off the target.
In the 14th minute, Iran nearly scored when slack marking by the Korean side allowed Javad Nekounam a free chance but his long-range shot was too weak to test Jung.
Fifteen minutes from the break, Cho’s side had their best chance in the first half, when Choi Hyo-jin broke through the Iran defenders and laid a perfect cross to Park Ji-sung. The captain, however, hesitated with the ball on his right foot and his shot was blocked by the Iran defender.
But, it was the visitors who opened the scoring in the 33 minute. Just seconds later after the Koreans missed their golden chance, the visitors responded with a counter attack and Masoud Shojaei with Spanish side Orsasuna tapped the ball into the net past the approaching goalkeeper.
After the break, Cho made two substitutions, bringing on both Kim Do-heon and Kim Jung-woo for Ki Sung-yeung and Yoon Bitgaram.
Suk Hyun-Jun of Ajax also made his national team debut in the second half, replacing Bolton winger Lee 10 minutes from the end of the game. They all failed to make an impact, however.
More than 38,000 spectators turned up at the Seoul World Cup stadium to see the Taeguk Warrior’s action, but witnessed an unconvincing performance from their side.
The 56-year-old manager now has a much bigger test in October, as Korea faces archrival Japan. Based on the evidence from tonight, that will be a tough game.
By Oh Kyu-wook (firstname.lastname@example.org)