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S. Korea looking to move closer to knockouts in 2nd group match vs. Jordan

By Yonhap

Published : Jan. 18, 2024 - 11:17

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Coming off a solid win over Bahrain earlier in the week, South Korea will try to move closer to a knockout berth at the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup when they take on Jordan on Saturday in Qatar.

The showdown between world No. 23 South Korea and No. 87 Jordan in Group E kicks off at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha at 2:30 p.m. Saturday local time, or 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

South Korean players take part in a training session for the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup at Al Egla Training Site in Doha on Wednesday. (Yonhap) South Korean players take part in a training session for the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup at Al Egla Training Site in Doha on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

Coached by Jurgen Klinsmann, South Korea are trying to win their first Asian Cup since 1960.

Lee Kang-in's double carried South Korea past Bahrain by the score of 3-1 on Monday. Later the same day, Jordan handled Malaysia 4-0, with Mahmoud Al-Mardi and Mousa Al-Tamari each grabbing a brace.

Jordan currently lead Group E on goal difference over South Korea, +4 to +2, and the winner of Saturday's match will take over the top spot.

Reaching six points will essentially guarantee South Korea a spot in the knockout stage, which is open to the top two nations from each of the six groups, plus four best third-place teams.

If they bag their second win this weekend, South Korea should reach the round of 16 as at least one of the four best No. 3 seeds, even in the unlikely event that 130th-ranked Malaysia upset both Bahrain (No. 86) and South Korea in their next two contests.

South Korea have never lost to Jordan, with three wins and two draws so far. But the two sides haven't faced each other since South Korea's 1-0 win in a friendly in November 2014.

South Korea head coach Jurgen Klinsmann (left) and captain Son Heung-min chat during a training session for the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup at Al Egla Training Site in Doha on Wednesday. (Yonhap) South Korea head coach Jurgen Klinsmann (left) and captain Son Heung-min chat during a training session for the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup at Al Egla Training Site in Doha on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

Lee Kang-in, playmaking midfielder for Paris Saint-Germain, flashed his goal-scoring chops against Bahrain. He broke the 1-1 deadlock in the second half with a left-footed rocket and then added the insurance goal with some fancy moves inside the box to create a shooting lane for himself.

Jordan will look to their own France-based attacker, Al-Tamari, for offense. The Montpellier midfielder converted a first-half penalty and then chipped one in for his second goal against Malaysia.

South Korea's offensive quality is undeniable, with Lee in good form and captain Son Heung-min, the Tottenham Hotspur talisman, licking his chops after being off target on some good looks against Bahrain. Hwang Hee-chan of Wolverhampton Wanderers missed the Bahrain match with a hip injury and remains questionable against Jordan. Hwang participated in a full training session Wednesday but Klinsmann likely won't rush him back into action when South Korea should still have enough firepower to get past Jordan.

On the other hand, Son will be one of five players with a yellow card from the first match. South Korea's top defender, center back Kim Min-jae, was also cautioned by referee Ma Ning, along with three others in the starting lineup -- left back Lee Ki-je, defensive midfielder Park Yong-woo and forward Cho Gue-sung. Klinsmann later said Ma "exaggerated a little bit" in handing out those yellow cards and blamed the Chinese official for making it "a tricky game."

South Korean players meet in a huddle before the start of a training session for the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup at Al Egla Training Site in Doha on Wednesday. (Yonhap) South Korean players meet in a huddle before the start of a training session for the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup at Al Egla Training Site in Doha on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

Klinsmann said he took Kim and Lee out of the match early because he didn't want them to pick up their second yellow card with the card-happy referee working the game. Park and Cho were also lifted before the full 90 minutes were up.

It will be interesting to see what Klinsmann does with the left side of his defense, after Lee Ki-je had difficulty containing Bahrain forwards. With Kim Jin-su, the only other natural left back on the squad, sidelined with a lower body injury, Klinsmann had to do some juggling work on Monday. He sent in right back Kim Tae-hwan for Lee in the 52nd minute and shifted starting right back Seol Young-woo to the left side to take Lee's spot.

Jordan players celebrate a goal by Mahmoud Al-Mardi (Center, No. 13) against Malaysia during the teams' Group E match at the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup at Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar, on Monday. (Yonhap) Jordan players celebrate a goal by Mahmoud Al-Mardi (Center, No. 13) against Malaysia during the teams' Group E match at the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup at Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar, on Monday. (Yonhap)

(Yonhap)