Fifa World Cup: South Korea's passing game fails to achieve desired result against Uruguay

Korea's possession-based football forced the opponent to resort to the long-ball tactic as Group H encounter ends in a goalless draw

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South Korea's Jung Woo-young and teammates applaud fans after the match. Photo: REuters
South Korea's Jung Woo-young and teammates applaud fans after the match. Photo: REuters

By Rituraj Borkakoty from Doha

Published: Thu 24 Nov 2022, 9:24 PM

It was a game that left both teams with a sense of frustration. Uruguay were left licking their wounds after missing out on the chances they created from the counterattacks.

The ever-reliable Diego Godin, 36, was solid as he marshalled the Uruguayan backline against the speedy and skillful South Koreans.

But ironically, it was the veteran defender that almost found the back of the net with a header that beat the outstretched hands of South Korean goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu only to ricochet off the post.

That was the closest either side came to hitting the bull’s-eye as the opening Group H game at the Qatar World Cup ended in a goalless draw at the Education City Stadium on Thursday.

Passing game

Unlike the South Americans, the Koreans looked more solid on the ball, playing the passing game beautifully in the middle of the pitch.

Backed by their vociferous supporters, the Koreans’ possession-based football forced Uruguay to resort to the long-ball tactic.

Uruguay did launch some promising counterattacks from those long balls, but the ageing Luis Suarez no longer has the pace to pounce on those opportunities.

A younger Suarez would have killed the game as a contest with his pace and predatory finishing skills.

The Koreans knew Suarez, one of the greatest strikers of all time, has now lost his bite in front of the goal.

It was with that sense of security that they came into the opening game on Thursday. A positive result would put have put them in the driver’s seat for a place in the round of 16.

But what let them down was their lack of assuredness in the final third. They came in waves at the two-time world champions, but their final ball lacked quality.

When Hwang Ui-jo, the Nottingham Forest striker who is now on loan at Greek giants Olympiacos, finally found a good pass and space in the first half, his right footer flew harmlessly over the crossbar.


Son struggles

Despite the big question marks over his fitness, Son Heung-min did start the team’s opening game on Thursday. But Tottenham’s star striker was a shadow of the player that dominates the Premier League defenders.

Son even missed the target by a big margin when he had a chance to score what could have been the match-winning goal in the closing stages of the match.

South Korean coach Paulo Bento, who looked frustrated at the touchline after every failed attack from his team, was pleased with his team’s overall performance.

"This was a very good match from our side, we had many moments where we controlled the match," the Portuguese manager said.

"After half-time we were not at our best, we suffered a bit because they are high quality players but we also did well in that situation."

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