Men’s team loses 3-1 to Morocco in friendly

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Men’s team loses 3-1 to Morocco in friendly


The Korean national football team reacts after conceding a goal to Morocco during a friendly match at Tissot Arena in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland on Wednesday. [YONHAP]

Korea fell 3-1 to Morocco in a friendly football match on Tuesday.

Morocco’s Oussama Tannane scored two and Ismail Haddad added another goal to sink Korea at Tissot Arena in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland. Korea’s only goal came from Son Heung-min’s penalty kick.

This was Korea’s second friendly since they qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup last month. Three days ago, Korea suffered a 4-2 loss to World Cup host Russia in Moscow.

The latest result extended the Taeguk Warriors’ winless streak to six matches.

Against Morocco, Korean head coach Shin Tae-yong changed eight of 11 starting members from the match against Russia, though he used the same 3-4-3 formation.

With a front three of Son Heung-min, Ji Dong-won and Nam Tae-hee, team captain Ki Sung-yueng partnered with Kim Bo-kyung in central midfield. They were flanked by wing backs Rim Chang-woo and Lee Chung-yong.

For a three-man defense, Shin deployed Song Ju-hun, Jang Hyun-soo and Kim Kee-hee in front of goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon.

Korea failed to contain Morocco early as Tannane scored two goals in the opening 10 minutes.

The Las Palmas midfielder first opened the scoring in the seventh minute with his right foot after receiving a pass from Schalke 04 youngster Amine Harit.

Tannane then doubled the lead for Morocco three minutes later with his left foot after Song, making his international debut, failed to clear a cross by Haddad from the left.

Morocco could have delivered a knockout punch to Korea in the 18th, but Mohamed Nahiri’s free kick hit the crossbar. In the 22nd, Haddad tried to chip the ball over Kim Jin-hyeon, who made the save to keep it a two-goal affair.

Korea got their first shot on target in the 26th when Nam threaded the ball through to Son, but the Tottenham Hotspur forward’s right-footed shot was denied by Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.

Trying to turn the tide, Korea made three substitutions in the 28th minute and switched to a back-four system.

With first-half substitutes, Korea created a couple of promising chances. In the 32nd, Kwon Chang-hoon, who came on for Nam, fired one from close range, only to be denied by Bounou. Ten minutes later, Son took a right-footed strike following a pass from Koo Ja-cheol, who replaced Kim Bo-kyung, and Bounou stood his ground once again.

The two teams made substitutions after halftime to test different players, but Morocco showed no mercy as Haddad punished Korea just one minute into the second half. The Moroccan left winger took a through ball from Harit and scored with his left foot.

Korea then started testing Morocco’s new goalkeeper Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti, who was playing in his first international match. Kwon’s left-footed effort hit the post in the 52nd and Son’s powerful strike stung the palms of Tagnaouti a minute later.

Shin’s side finally produced a goal in the 66th when Son converted a penalty that Koo earned after getting brought down by Tagnaouti in the box. Although it was a spot kick, Son was also able to end his year-long international scoring drought with this goal.

Korea, however, failed to cut their deficit any further as Son’s left-footed effort in the 89th and Hwang Ui-jo’s right-footed strike in the 92nd all failed to reach the back of the net.

Korean boss Shin said after the match that his side was inferior to Morocco in every aspect and he will need time for self-reflection.

“We lost in both result and performance,” he said. “No one would understand our players’ fitness and performance today.”

The 46-year-old coach, who previously managed Korea’s under-23 and under-20 squads, admitted that his tactical approach turned out to be a big miss. Shin explained that he made three substitutions after just 28 minutes into the match because his team needed to refresh the atmosphere quickly after surrendering two early goals.

“I’ve never imagined we’d surrender goals that early,” he said. “I didn’t know our players weren’t fit to perform like that.”

Shin, who took over the team in July after Uli Stielike’s exit, is still winless with the national team. He now has two draws and two losses with Korea.

Shin said Korea’s two friendly matches in Europe will give a good lesson to the players. Shin will have to form a new squad next month for two other friendlies at home. He is scheduled to return to Korea on Thursday.

“I think these two matches must motivate our players,” he said. “If we play like this, people will say we shouldn’t be at the World Cup.”

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