Asian Cup: South Korea beats Oman 1-0 at Asian Cup
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — South Korea began its Asian Cup campaign with a difficult 1-0 win over Oman on Saturday through Cho Yong-cheol’s goal in first-half stoppage time.
Winning coach Uli Stielike said he hoped the close victory would give his team added incentive as the tournament progressed.
South Korea joined Australia on three points in Group A, although the Socceroos are top on goal difference after a 4-1 win over Kuwait on Friday.
On a wet afternoon in the Australian capital, both teams had their moments in the first half. South Korea’s star attacker Son Heung-min hit the top of the crossbar with a looping shot after seven minutes.
Oman’s running led to openings that attackers Qasim Said and Abdulaziz Al-Maqbali could not capitalize on.
The only goal of the match came when former English Premier League goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi could only parry a Koo Ja-cheol shot and Cho poked the rebound home.
Koo went close to extending South Korea’s lead just before the hour but his fierce header was tipped over the bar by Al Habsi.
South Korea dominated the second half when Lee Chung-yong and Son went close to extending their team’s lead.
The winning side almost paid the price for failing to finish off the game after 75 minutes, but Oman striker Abdulaziz Al Maqbali miskicked when free at the back post.
“I prefer to start a tournament like today in a tough game and learn from our mistakes ... compared to winning 5-0 and everyone saying that you will win the Cup,” Stielike said.
“In the second half, we did things very much calmer and cooler and our game was much better.”
Oman’s French coach Paul Le Guen said his team “gave their best and fought on the pitch.” He could only look forward to his team’s next match Tuesday against Australia in Sydney.
“It will be tough against Australia for many reasons but we will fight,” he said. “They are a good team and are at home and have one more day recovery, but I like the fighting spirit of my team.”
South Korea stays in Canberra to take on Kuwait, also on Tuesday.