Can South Korean soccer quell the ‘sandstorms’ of the Middle East and return to the top of the Asian Cup for the first time in 64 years, with just two wins remaining?
Jürgen Klinsmann’s (GER) men’s national football team won their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Qatar 2023 quarterfinal against Australia 2-1 after extra-time thanks to a dramatic free-kick winner from Son Heung-min (Tottenham) on Wednesday.
Hwang Hee-chan’s (Wolverhampton) penalty in late stoppage time tied the game at 1-1, and Son Heung-min’s finish set up the miraculous drama.
All four matches have been set. South Korea, the hosts, Qatar, who are looking to win their second straight title, Iran, and Jordan. Except for South Korea, all three are from the Middle East.
This marks the second consecutive year that three Middle Eastern nations have made it to the quarterfinals, following the 2019 edition in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). At the UAE tournament, Qatar, Iran, and the UAE advanced. At the time, Japan was the only non-Middle Eastern nation to reach the quarterfinals.
South Korea’s pride was bruised in the group stage with draws against underdogs Jordan (2-2) and Malaysia (3-3), but the team showed tenacity throughout the tournament.
After drawing with South Korea in the group stage, Jordan reached the quarterfinals for the first time with a 1-0 victory over Central Asian sensation Tajikistan in the quarterfinals.
Powerhouse Iran, ranked 21st in the FIFA rankings, kept their title challenge alive with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over heavy favorites Japan. Iran is just as desperate as 토토사이트 South Korea, who last won the tournament in 1976. It will be 48 years since they last won the title.
Hosts Qatar drew 1-1 with Uzbekistan before winning 3-2 on penalties to move one step closer to a second straight title.
South Korea will play the winner of Qatar-Iran for the title if they beat Jordan in the semifinals. Quell the sandstorm.
With defensive nucleus Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich) unavailable for the match against Jordan due to accumulated cautions, defense will be a factor.
South Korea and Jordan will kick off at 7:00 p.m. at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan. Qatar and Iran will face off a day later at 8:00.