We’re not even one week into this year’s Asian Cup and use of the word “deflection” has tripled. This match was no different. The heavily fancied Koreans did enough to earn all three points off a disappointing Bahrain side.

In what was to be a overall poor performance from both sides it was Park Ji-Sung and the Koreans that started well. The Manchester United player was set up by Lee Chung-Yong but his shot failed to test Mahmood Mansoor. Apart from the early effort Park was not as influential as he would have liked.

After Park Chu-Young was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury the mantle was passed to Koo Ja-Cheol and the young striker was eager to show he is up to the job. A couple of early chances and a few moments of excellent close control and it were clear to see the big stage wasn’t going to faze him.

The Bahrain defence failed to heed the warning and it was the young striker that opened the scoring, left with space on the edge of the box he was able to get his shot away. Abdulla Marzooqi couldn’t help but deflect the shot over the helpless Mansoor. Korea with the deserved lead going into the break.

Korea must have sensed that Bahrain were there for the taking as they came out from the interval looking for the second goal that would ultimately finish their opponents off.

With only six minutes gone in the second half the goal duly came, Cha Du-Ri in one of his trademark forays up the right wing tried his luck from 20 yards out, Mansoor could only parry the powerful shot and Koo reacted quickest and had the easiest of jobs to tap in his second of the game.

Cha had a taste for the action now, this time he cut in from the right and trying to recreate his recent goal against St. Johnstone for Celtic the curling left foot shot looked on target but Mansoor would have been pleased to watch it sail wide. Not the worse effort though.

With the game all but over Korea took their foot off the gas and predictably Bahrain finally came into the game, with seven minutes to go they got a life-line. Abdulla Al Dakeel raced into the box, Kwak Tae-Hwi forcefully tugged on the Bahrain player’s shirt, and the forward fell to the ground and referee Abdullah Al Hilali pointed to the spot.

A deserved penalty what was not deserved was the red card for Kwak, with other defenders between the ball and the goal and Al Dakeel moving away from goal, a yellow card would have been suitable for the crime.

Faouzi Aaish stepped up and converted the spot kick; it was however too little, too late for the Bahrain team. If you are going to have a go it would make sense to do it after half-time when your only one goal down. Don’t wait till the game is past you before making an effort.

After the match Korean coach Cho Kwang-Rae was full of praise for two goal hero Koo Ja-Cheol.

“Koo is a very skilful player and he plays in many positions,” said Cho.

“He can play in the centre midfield and on the flank and he can cover two different positions while Cha also played a good game and I will definitely consider fielding the two of them to against Australia.”

Bahrain coach Salman Sharida hopes his side can learn from the much fancied Korea Republic.

“We have learnt our lessons after playing against a big team who played previously in the World Cup,” he said.

“I asked the players to put pressure on the Koreans and play on the counter. Korea Republic have better experience and they are good, both as a group and individually.

“Despite the situation that we have, we must work hard and try our best to lift the moral of the players before the next matches.”

Both sides will be very wary of their next fixture. The Korea Republic take on Australia knowing the winner will likely take top spot in the group. Bahrain face India knowing the loser will be out of the competition. Everything is still to play for.



January 11th, 2011

Koo did look good. He’s only 21 and still plays in Korea, though probably not for much longer.

Thought the final scoreline was very misleading. As you say, Bahrain were disappointing. Korea looked very comfortable until the penalty and sending-off.


January 11th, 2011

I had never heard of him, so good to see a new player. Sort of thrown into the lions den being the striker of one of the favourites without much exposure.

I think Korea were happy to get the 2-0 and just slowed down. They will be disappointed to lose the penalty, Bahrain had that half chance to equalise, would have been a disaster if they had equalised.

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