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Lee Ki-je was appointed, and he admitted to failing himself due to replacement of censure
South Korea’s men’s national soccer team, led by head coach Jürgen Klinsmann, won 3-1 against Bahrain in the first Group E match of Qatar 2023 at the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup held at 8:30 p.m. on the 15th (Korea time) at Jasim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
Korea is aiming for its first win in 64 years after winning the second Asian Cup championship in 1960. With the victory, Korea maintained an absolute advantage (12 wins, 4 draws and 1 loss) against Bahrain, and gained three points in its first group match, signaling a good start. Korea and Bahrain are aiming to advance to the round of 16 teams in their records against Jordan and Malaysia in Group E
The Asian Cup will feature 24 countries and will have group matches in six groups. The 12 teams ranking first and second in their respective groups will advance to the round of 16. The top four teams among the third-ranked teams in the group will also win tickets to the round of 16. If Korea tops Group E, its opponent in the round of 16 will be the second-ranked team in Group D.
It is one of Japan, Indonesia, Iraq, and Vietnam that belongs to Group D. If they rank second in their group, they will face No. 1 in Group F, which includes Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, and Oman. Initially, the 2023 AFC Asian Cup was scheduled to be held in China in July last year. However, the venue was changed to Qatar in the wake of the COVID-19, and the timing has been postponed to early this year. It opened on the 12th and will be held until February 10.
The first round of a major championship is always important. It determines the overall atmosphere of a championship. First of all, the victory itself made me feel good. Though the team is lagging behind Korea’s 23rd in FIFA rankings and 86th in Bahrain, the team started the race with a great victory.
In fact, Korea and Son Heung-min are more desperate for a championship trophy than any other Asian team. Korea, which is suffering from a jinx at the Asian Cup, won the title at the first event in 1956 and the second event in 1960. However, Korea has won the runner-up prize four times in the 63 years since then, and has no chance of winning the title.
Korea was overwhelmed with 71 percent of the market share, but Bahrain’s counterattack continued to expose dangerous scenes. Especially when Bahrain failed to catch the ball properly, Bahrain continued to create dangerous scenes. In particular, it allowed Bahrain’s counterattack from the side.
On the day, Klinsmann once again appointed Lee Ki-je, whom he is pushing, as the starting fullback on the left side. However, Lee was below expectations. Lee kept losing ground in competition with his opponent. He created a dangerous scene by blocking strikers on the opposing side from breaking through.
In particular, the losing scene was a problem. In the sixth minute of the second half, Bahrain put the ball into the box with a good connection play, and the ball flowed to frontline striker Al-Hashashi. Al-Hashashi calmly shot and scored a goal. In this process, Lee Ki-je failed to stop Bahrain’s attack and became the starting point for the goal.
Immediately after the scene, Klinsmann used a substitute card. Instead of Lee Ki-je, the team deployed Kim Tae-hwan. As Kim Jin-soo was injured, Seol Young-woo changed his mind to the left by deploying Kim Tae-hwan. After this scene, Korea won the game comfortably by conceding two goals.
In a way, the replacement was clearly censureable right after the loss. In many ways, coach Klinsmann himself seemed to admit that Lee Ki-je’s appointment was a failure. Except for this scene, Lee was warned in the 28th minute of the first half when he was forced to defend against the opponent’s defender one-on-one