Saudi Arabia tops the group but faces South Korea.
Italian media outlet Tuttomercato Web reported on June 26 (KST), “Mancini will not be happy despite finishing first. Mancini’s men have secured first place in the group, but as a result, they will face South Korea in the round of 16.”
The South Korean national team drew 3-3 with Malaysia in the third match of Group E at the Qatar Asian Cup 2023 at Al Janub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar, on Aug. 25 at 8:30 p.m. ET.
South Korea scored the first goal of the match. In the 21st minute, Lee Kang-in’s corner kick was headed home by Jung Woo-young to make it 1-0. However, the celebration was short-lived. In the fifth minute of the second half, Hwang In-beom was stripped of the ball in the buildup and faced a one-on-one chance, and although Kim Min-jae and Cho Hyun-woo were able to close down their opponents and narrow the angle of the shot, they ultimately allowed a chip shot to make it 1-1.
In the 13th minute of the second half, Seol Young-woo’s cross from the left flank was reviewed by VAR and a PK was awarded, which Malaysia converted cleanly to make it 1-2.
Korea didn’t go down without a fight. In the 37th minute, Lee Kang-in tied the game at 2-2 with a fantastic free kick goal from a relatively long distance. The Koreans had another chance to take the lead in the 45th minute when Oh Hyun-gyu won a PK and Son Heung-min converted to make it 3-2.
However, a whopping 12 minutes of extra time was awarded, and in the 14th minute of stoppage time, Morales, who was granted Malaysian citizenship a few months ago by Colombia, scored a theatrical equalizer to make it 3-3.
The Saudis made a number of key substitutions in their final group game against Thailand, drawing 0-0 and advancing to the round of 16 as group leaders with seven points. South Korea will now face Saudi Arabia in the Round of 16.
In the last three meetings between South Korea and Saudi Arabia, the Koreans have won two and drawn one. The first of the three matches was a friendly in 2015. South Korea won 2-0 thanks to an own goal by Saudi Arabia’s Hassawi and a goal by Cho Young-chul.
The next match was a friendly in 2019, which ended in a 0-0 draw. The last match was a friendly in September last year. Klinsmann was the coach at the time and the team was not doing well at the time with no wins, but a goal from Cho Kyu-sung gave Klinsmann his first win with a 1-0 victory.
While South Korea’s fond memories of Saudi Arabia should give them some confidence, the Saudis are a different story. The Saudis are also not in the best of form right now. In their first group game against Oman, they barely won 2-1 thanks to a dramatic goal in stoppage time, and against Tajikistan, they only won because Tajikistan had two men sent off.
When asked by Asharq Al-Awsat about his forward line’s lack of goals and how he sees it, Mancini replied, “We had 16 shots and we had the possession, but we didn’t score and I hope it will be different in the next game.”
Mancini went on to talk about the team’s path in the tournament, stating that “to win, you have to beat any team you meet at any stage.”