Jo Tong-sop's squad misses penalty shot in 6th minute
DOHA (AP) ― The United Arab Emirates restored some pride to the Gulf teams Tuesday by holding North Korea to a 0-0 draw in its opening Group D match of the Asian Cup.
North Korea, which qualified for last year’s World Cup, should have taken the lead in the sixth minute but captain Hong Yong-jo hit the bar with a penalty after Hamdan Al Kamali pushed Jong Tae-se inside the box.
North Korea’s Jong Tae-se looks to dribble up the field against UAE. (Yonhap News)
After that reprieve, UAE dominated and missed at least half a dozen chances in the first half alone.
“If Korea had scored off that penalty maybe it would have been different, but my team regrouped after that and took complete control,” UAE coach Srecko Katanec said. “We will now have to hope the players recover and get ready for the next two games, which are very difficult ones.”
North Korea goalkeeper Ri Myong-guk saved a volley from UAE striker Esmail Matar and watched another shot go over the bar. Ri also stopped a shot from Ahmad Khaleel.
In the second half, Matar’s attempt from about 40 meters missed and Ri then came up with two solid saves late in the match, the second from substitute Saeed Al Kathiri’s header.
“I’m satisfied with the way we played because my team showed good character and skill,” Katanec said. “Unfortunately we couldn’t score from the chances we created and this is a problem. We did all other things and I’m very, very satisfied.”
North Korea coach Jo Tong-sop said his side became nervous after missing that early penalty.
North Korea head coach Jo Tong-sop (AP-Yonhap News)
“We were organized and had the penalty in the first half, but failed and after that they were tensed. My players felt the effect of the missed penalty and didn’t play well,” Jo said. “They have some individually skilled players while we rely on our team and their physical fitness, but for this match they lacked that and did not do well.”
North Korea still has group matches against Iran and Iraq.
“Those teams are difficult to play against but we have an analysis of their strengths and weaknesses and we will do our best to win those two matches,” Jo said. “First matches are always difficult and we will get the experience and use it for the next matches. This was the first and players cannot display their skills and abilities so in terms of percentages we were at about 80 percent.”
Of the other Gulf teams, host Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain all lost their opening games at the Asian Cup.