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Korea Beats North in Soccer Playoff

Posted December. 11, 2006 06:58,   


In a men’s quarterfinal football match in the 2006 Doha Asian Games, South Korea won a convincing victory over North Korea and advanced to the semifinals.

In the match, held on December 10 at Al-Rayyan Football Stadium located in Doha, Qatar, South Korea defeated North Korea, 3-0, with goals from Kim Chi-woo (Incheon United), Yeom Ki-hun (Jeonbuk Hyundai), and Jung Jo-gook (FC Seoul). As a result, Team South Korea, aiming for the gold medal for the first time in 20 years after the 1986 Seoul Asian Games, will compete with Iraq, which beat Uzbekistan 2-1, for a ticket to the final match.

The two Koreas met each other in the Asian Games for the first time since 1978 in Bangkok. Then it was the final match, which resulted in a scoreless draw, and both were awarded gold medals. Despite the friendly atmosphere between the two teams, there were no concessions when it came to the actual game. In the 31st minute, Kim Chi-woo scored the South’s first goal with a 20-meter middle range shot. Three minutes later, Lee Chun-soo and Yeom Ki-hun cooperated on a wall pass which became the second goal. In the 57th minute, Jung Jo-gook had South Korea’s last goal, which was assisted by Yeom.

Iraq, South Korea’s opponent in the semifinals, has some credit in South Korean football history. It was in October 1993 during the qualifying round for the 1994 World Cup USA. Korea had already beaten North Korea 3-0, but they couldn’t have won the ticket to the states unless Iraq avoided a loss to Japan. With only 17 seconds left in the game, Iraq scored an equalizer, which disqualified Japan and gave Korea a bid to the main tournament.

Football is the most popular sport in Iraq. In the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, Iraq beat powerhouses in football such as Portugal and made a surprising advance to the semifinals. Although their participation in the Games this year had been unclear due to the war, they are doing unexpectedly well in the tournament.

In terms of objective capacities, it is safe to say that Korea holds the advantage over Iraq. A-match records show that Korea has the upper hand with four wins, nine draws and two losses though they have never encountered since 1993. In regard of FIFA rankings as well, South Korea (51st) is superior to Iraq (88th). They have met only once in the Asian Games, which was in 1974 at Teheran, and the game resulted in a 1-1 draw.

Pim Verbeek, head coach of Team Korea, said, “We know nothing about Iraq. It looks to be a tough game as Iraq has proven its strength by beating Uzbekistan.”