Klinsmann’s men earn their first win in six games and seven months.
South Korea, led by Jürgen Klinsmann (Germany-59), earned a 1-0 victory over fellow Asian nation Saudi Arabia in an A-Match trial at St. James’ Park in Newcastle, England, at 1:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
It was Klinsmann’s first win over the Saudis since his appointment in February, after three draws and two losses in five A-match matches. South Korea, ranked 28th in the FIFA rankings, drew 2-2 with Colombia and lost 1-2 to Uruguay in A matches in March. In June, they lost 0-1 to Peru and tied 1-1 with El Salvador. On Aug. 8, they drew 0-0 against 35th-ranked Wales, which has a lower FIFA ranking than South Korea, after being out-shot 4 to 11. Klinsmann was the first coach to go five games without a win since the introduction of full-time coaching in 1992.
The Saudis are the 54th-ranked underdogs in the FIFA rankings, and the loss to South Korea snapped a six-match losing streak. Despite the fact that Saudi Arabia is objectively lesser than South Korea, the victory was significant. Coach Klinsmann has been under fire for his poor performances and frequent foreign trips, but he was able to put out the flames by beating Saudi Arabia. South Korea’s head-to-head record against Saudi Arabia is 5 wins, 7 draws, and 6 losses.
Klinsmann opted for a 4-4-2 formation, with Son Heung-min (Tottenham) and Cho Kyu-sung (Mitwillan) as the two up front, supported by Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton), Hwang In-beom (Zvezda), Park Yong-woo (Al Ain), and Lee Jae-sung (Mainz). Lee Ki-je (Suwon Samsung), Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich), Jung Seung-hyun, and Seol Young-woo (Ulsan Hyundai) were the back four, and Kim Seung-kyu (Al Shabab) was the goalkeeper. Only one position changed from the last match against Wales. Hwang Hee-chan got the start in place of Hong Hyun-seok (KAA Hent), who joined Hwang Sun-hong’s Asian Games squad.
In the ninth minute, South Korea capitalized on a set piece that caught their opponents off guard. On a free kick from the right flank, Son Heung-min delivered a ground ball instead of a cross. Lee Ki-je, who was separated from the opposing defense, fired a sharp left-footed shot that went wide of the goal. South Korea nearly broke through in the 18th minute. Saudi Alhamdan’s shot hit the defense and went over the top.
South Korea’s woes continued. In the 26th minute, South Korea lost the ball in their own half. It gave the opponent a one-on-one chance, but goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu narrowed the angle to make a super save.
After surviving one crisis after another, South Korea took the lead in the 32nd minute. It was a lucky goal. A pass from Lee Jae-sung was cleared off the line by the opposing defense and found Cho Kyu-sung in the penalty box. The Saudi goalkeeper jumped out to make the save. Cho Kyu-sung then fired a header into the left corner of the goal for the winner. It was Cho’s first goal in eight games since his multi-goal performance against Ghana in the second round of the World Cup in Qatar last year.
After taking the lead, South Korea continued to build on their lead in the 35th minute when Son Heung-min capitalized on a defensive mistake. A rough tackle came from the opponent. Son Heung-min went down hard. It was inside the penalty box, and the tackle touched Son’s ankle, not the ball. It was a penalty kick, but the referee called a no-foul.
With a 1-0 lead at halftime, South Korea looked to keep the momentum going with Kim Min-jae’s iron-clad defense and aggressive play. In the 10th minute of the second half, Hwang Hee-chan even tried to shoot after a bold breakthrough, but was denied by the goalkeeper.
There was also a crisis. In the 17th minute of the second half, the opponent rattled the goal. Fortunately, the goal was not disallowed due to an offside call. South Korea then brought on Moon Sun-min (Jeonbuk Hyundai) and Hwang Eui-jo (Norwich City) to change their attack. In the 27th minute of the second half, Kim Min-jae kept the Saudi attack at bay with his calm play and solid physicality.바카라
The Saudi attack was fierce until the end. There were some unsettling moments. In the 42nd minute, Korea’s center back Jung Seung-hyun cleared a ball that ended up in the side netting of the Korean goal. However, Korea remained focused until the very end to protect their one-goal lead. Monster defender Kim Min-jae made a great defensive effort to keep the opponent’s attack at bay, and Korea held on for a 1-0 victory. South Korea was outshot 19-7 on the day. However, they lost the ball possession battle to 47%.