Football woes hurt reputationKorea will try to move past their disappointing group stage performance and get back on track for their men’s football title defense at the 18th Asian Games.
Korea reached the round of 16 in the men’s football competition at Jakarta Palembang 2018 as runners-up in Group E with two wins and one loss. They’ll next face Iran, the winners of Group F.
Korea, led by head coach Kim Hak-bum, started their group stage campaign with a sweet 6-0 win over Bahrain, but suffered a shocking 2-1 defeat to Malaysia in the next match. The under-23 team then narrowly edged Kyrgyzstan 1-0 to advance to the knockout stage.
It was disappointing performance for Korea, the defending Asiad men’s football champions. In 2014, they took the crown without a defeat and without conceding a goal.
An unexpected runner-up finish changed Korea’s whole plan.
Korea will first have to deal with a tough travel schedule ahead. After playing their round of 16 match at Wibawa Mukit Stadium in Cikarang, east of Jakarta, they have to move to Patriot Chandrabhaga Stadium in Jakarta for the quarterfinals. And for the semifinals and final, they need to go to Pakansari Stadium in Bogor, south of Jakarta.
If they had won the group, they would have competed in their round of 16 match at Patriot Chandrabhaga Stadium in Jakarta and played at Pakansari Stadium from the quarterfinals to the final.
A loss to Malaysia was Korea’s first loss to the Southeast Asian country in 44 years at the Asian Games. Against Kyrgyzstan, Korea attempted 26 shots, but only one hit the net.
Coach Kim said the Malaysia loss will serve as a turning point.
“I’m sure the players learned many things from the match against Malaysia,” he said.