Korea beats UAE to open Olympic men’s football qualifiers in Qatar

Lee Young-jun of Korea celebrates after scoring a goal against the United Arab Emirates during the teams' Group B match at the Asian Football Confederation U-23 Asian Cup at Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha, April 16,  in this photo provided by the Korea Football Association. Yonhap

Korea defeated the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 1-0 to begin their Olympic men’s football qualifying campaign in Qatar on Tuesday, taking a key first step toward a berth in the quadrennial tournament in Paris.Substitute Lee Young-jun headed home the winner during second-half added time for the narrow Korean win in their first Group B match at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Asian Cup at Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha.Korea had two goals wiped out by offside calls before Lee scored the one that counted.This AFC tournament also serves as the Asian qualifiers for the Paris Olympics scheduled for this summer. The top three teams from the 16-team competition will grab tickets to France, while the fourth-place team will play Guinea in an intercontinental playoff later.Korea have played at every Olympic men’s football tournament since 1988, and their only medal to date is the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.Coached by Hwang Sun-hong, Korea will next play China on Friday, back at Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium. The kickoff is 4 p.m. in Doha and 10 p.m. in Seoul. The young Taegeuk Warriors will close out the group stage against Japan next Monday at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Al Rayyan, just west of Doha, also a 4 p.m. local time kickoff.Earlier Tuesday, 10-man Japan defeated China 1-0, despite losing defender Ryuya Nishio to a straight red card in the 17th minute.

The top two teams from each of the four groups will advance to the quarterfinals.Hwang had originally called up five players based in foreign leagues but will be missing three of them — Yang Hyun-jun of Celtic FC, Kim Ji-soo of Brentford FC and Bae Jun-ho of Stoke City — due to their club commitments. The AFC event isn’t on the FIFA international match calendar and thus clubs aren’t obliged to release their Asian players.Hwang, who had to name players from the domestic K League as replacements, said at his prematch presser on Monday that he hoped to see K Leaguers “show their strength and capability throughout the tournament.”And it was two K League players, defender Lee Tae-seok and forward Lee Young-jun, who connected for the decisive goal against the UAE.Korea knocked on the UAE doors early and often, and spent the majority of the first half in their opponents’ zone.After a UAE turnover, Lee Kang-hee fired a midrange shot that forced Khaled Tawhid to make a tough diving stop in the 14th minute.South Korea then had a goal disallowed by an offside call in the 18th minute. Forward An Jae-jun thought he’d scored a backheel goal off a cross from Kang Sang-yoon, who corralled the rebound after Hwang Jae-won’s left-footed shot struck the left post. But Kang was ruled offside following a video review, leading to the goal being overturned.

The UAE didn’t mount much of an attack in the opening 45 minutes, though forward Ulsan Adil nearly stripped goalkeeper Kim Jeong-hoon of the ball in the goalmouth after Kim had taken a back pass.Korea had another close call 11 minutes after the restart, when Lee Kang-hee’s header from the left side of the six-yard box bounced just wide of the left post. Around the hour mark, Sultan Ali missed the top right corner with his right-footed effort from a sharp angle on the left.Korea threatened to score about 10 minutes later, though Eom Ji-sung’s header from close range sailed over the net. They lost another would-be goal to an offside ruling in the 87th minute, with Kang getting caught once again.But with the clock ticking down, Lee Young-jun, the tallest Korean player at 190 centimeters, came through four minutes into the 12-minute stoppage time.Lee Tae-seok bent a corner kick toward the goalmouth, and Lee Young-jun soared over multiple defenders to redirect the ball with his head and put it past Tawhid.Korea kept the UAE at bay the rest of the way and hung on for the opening win.Korea captain Byeon Jun-soo said afterward he will gladly take this victory, despite some frustration over not capitalizing on several opportunities.”A 1-0 win is still a win,” Byeon said in a televised interview. “We had a lot of chances to score. I think our 카지노사이트킹 finishing around the goal will get better as the tournament wears on.

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