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Lee Kang-in of Korea passes the ball during the AFC  Asian Cup Group E match  against Bahrain at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Jan. 15. / Yonhap

South Korea head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will be thanking the soccer gods for Lee Kang-in, the man who made the difference in the 3-1 win over Bahrain in the opening game of the Asian Cup in Qatar on Monday. If Lee plays the same way against Jordan on Saturday then the Taeguk Warriors will progress to the Round of 16 with one game left in Group E to spare.First of all, it should be pointed out that there are plenty of examples of favored teams losing opening games in tournaments. Indeed, Argentina was shockingly defeated by Saudi Arabia at the start of the 2022 World Cup but then went on to lift the trophy just a few short weeks later.Korea actually won. The team did not play especially well against Bahrain but Lee is a special talent. The Paris Saint-Germain star impressed even before his two goals in the second half and they were beautiful goals. Lee ran the game even as Son Heung-min had something of an off-day in the opposition’s penalty area.Yet not long before Lee scored his spectacular first, curling home a shot from outside the area, Bahrain scored to make it 1-1 early in the second half. Had it not been for the intervention of Lee, it could have ended very differently.Too much should not be read into the first game but it does add to existing concerns that Klinsmann may be too reliant on star players making the difference rather than implementing any real coherent strategy, tactics and style of play. Individual talents can earn wins against teams like Bahrain and probably in the subsequent games against Jordan and Malaysia but what happens when the two-time champion comes up against strong teams like Iran, Australia and, especially, Japan?

That is in the future. Against Bahrain, Son missed two excellent chances and all will be hoping that the yellow card he received due to diving will not come back to haunt the team. Another yellow means that he will be suspended for one game.The captain believes that the secret to improved performances lies in the hands of the players. “We have a fantastic team and we have amazingly talented players, but it’s all about commitment,” Son said. “We have an unbelievable team but we haven’t won it for 64 years so it means it’s quite long. We have just one aim — to make it special with this team and make it a special year.”It is Son’s job to look at the positives. A 3-1 win that was not too convincing but was comfortable in the end is still a win. It is a platform on which to build on. The teams that win tournaments gather momentum and improve as the games come and go.All will hope that there will be victory against Jordan, who defeated Malaysia 4-0 in their opening game on Saturday. It would mean that Korea will move to the Round of 16 — where the action really starts — with a game to spare.That is the dream scenario as it means that the big stars can be rested in the final game against Malaysia and some of the understudies can get some playing time.So far so good though. Korea needs to improve but there is plenty 스포츠토토존 of time in which to do so.

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