The South Korean national soccer team (23rd in the FIFA rankings), led by coach Jürgen Klinsmann, tied Jordan (87th in the FIFA rankings) 2-2 in the second Group E match of the 2023 Asian Cup Qatar held at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, at 8:30 p.m. on the 20th (Korea time). As a result, South Korea ranks second in the group with one win and one draw (four points, plus two goal differences), and Jordan ranks first in the group with one win and one draw (four points, plus four goal differences).
Coach Klinsmann came out with the same lineup as the last match against Bahrain, except for the goalkeeper. He activated a 4-4-2 formation. Son Heung-min and Cho Kyu-sung were deployed at the front line, and Lee Jae-sung, Park Yong-woo, Hwang In-beom and Lee Kang-in formed the midfield. Lee Ki-je, Kim Min-jae, Jung Seung-hyun and Seol Young-woo worked together in the back four, and Cho Hyun-woo wore goalkeeper gloves in place of Kim Seung-gyu.
The mood in the beginning was taken by Korea. Son Heung-min, who received Hwang In-beom’s pass in the fourth minute of the first half, fell into the opponent’s tackle in the penalty box. The penalty kick was declared after VAR and on-field review by the referee. The review was so thorough that it took about four minutes. Son Heung-min stepped up as a kicker and boldly kicked the ball to the center to score the first goal.
However, after scoring the first goal, Korea was overwhelmed by Jordan’s dominance. Jordan continued to exert strong pressure from the front to bully the Korean defense line, and continued to engage in physical struggle even in the midfield. Korea was hardly able to counterattack, and the line gradually declined.
In the end, Park gave up a run. In the 37th minute of the first half, Park failed to clear a cross that came from the corner kick defense, and headed it to our goal to score an own goal. Jordan gained more momentum. Eventually, the team ended the first half 1-2 by giving up the upset in extra time in the first half.
South Korea made changes at the beginning of the second half. Except for Park Yong-woo and Lee Ki-je, Hong Hyun-suk and Kim Tae-hwan were put in. South Korea continued to lead the attack after the second half, but it was difficult to break through Jordan’s 500th. South Korea changed the attack with Oh Hyun-kyu and Jung Woo-young cards, but the frustrating trend continued.
He balanced the score at the moment of crisis. Son Heung-min caught Kim Tae-hwan’s cross from the right side in 1 minute of extra time in the second half. Hwang In-beom finished the cutback he gave later and shook the net. The second half extra time was given 11 minutes, but neither team scored an additional goal and the game ended 2-2.
“In the first half, we didn’t get the tempo, pass, speed, and quality pass that we wanted. We showed a little improvement in the second half, but we have a lot of things to revise,” Klinsmann said after the match.
With the draw, Korea has a slim chance of advancing to the round of 16 teams as the group’s No. 1 ranking. The “winner’s principle” is the top priority in this tournament. Even if Korea wins the third match against Malaysia in a massive scale, if Jordan gets three points against Bahrain, its No. 1 ranking in the group will not change.
If he advances to the round of 16 as the second runner-up in his group, he will face the top spot in Group F. He is more likely to face off against one of Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Oman, and Kyrgyzstan. Considering his past records, chances are high that he will face off against Saudi Arabia. “We are only looking at Malaysia at the moment. It is important to learn from all the matches played in the group league and to point out possible variables. I try not to repeat the same mistakes when I meet Middle Eastern teams in future matches, remembering the struggles and difficulties that Middle Eastern teams show.”
Klinsmann defended the players who showed poor performance on the day as well. Lee Ki-je and Cho Kyu-sung showed disappointing performances. However, Klinsmann said, “There is no problem with Plan A. Although he has been a player for a long time, it is important for individuals to find their condition and rhythm. When a competition is held, he could show amazing performance or cause ups and downs.”
Finally, Klinsmann concluded the press conference by saying, “We won the first round, and today we earned a point. I want to advance to the round of 16 and play all seven games. Every game will be the final.”