Jordan, South Korea look to qualify for knock-out phase on Saturday

Jordan, South Korea look to qualify for knock-out phase on Saturday

QLNews
By QLNews

The Al Thumama Stadium on Saturday will see an enthralling fight, between Jordan and South Korea — the top two sides in Group E — as they look to qualify for the knockout phase in style.

Jordan, who are ahead of South Korea by virtue of a better goal difference, will be keen to comfortably get to the next round.

Meanwhile, Bahrain and Malaysia, the two other teams in Group E, are winless so far and will seek to get their first points in the tournament. A win is important for both teams in order to have a chance of progressing to the next round.

Here is a better look at the day’s two matches.

GROUP E
JORDAN VS SOUTH KOREA

Kick-off: 2:30
Venue: Al Thumama Stadium

Citing the West Asian side’s impressive 4-0 win over Malaysia in their opening match, Klinsmann said his players cannot be complacent against Jordan.

“In their very first match, Jordan showed their determination to make it to the knockout stages, and we’ve to be alert at all times,” said the German.

“Everyone expects them to be defensive, but you don’t score four goals by just defending, and we’ll have to do everything to wear them down.

“This is a great Korean side with guys who’re doing a great job across top competitions, including the AFC Champions League and several European leagues. We’ve a lot of quality in our squad, and such resources have to be utilised well. I’d say we’re confident but not overconfident and are taking the Asian Cup one game at a time. However, our intention has been clear from the start — to stay in the competition till the end,” said the German.

With several players on yellow cards after their opening match against Bahrain, the challenges for the Taeguk Warriors have intensified with first-choice goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu sustaining a torn anterior cruciate ligament during training, ruling him out of the campaign.

Klinsmann, a former striker who won the 1990 FIFA World Cup with West Germany, drew on his own experience as a player to motivate his squad.

“Having been a player myself, I think these are just problems you’ve to live with and move on. Cautions are a part of the game, and while you can do your best to avoid picking up a second and getting ruled out, you can’t step onto the field with fear in your mind,” he said.

The strength of the South Korean side is not lost on Jordan head coach Hussein Ammouta, who is hoping to see his side capitalise on their impeccable performance against Malaysia to combat the East Asian heavyweights’ stellar line-up.

“We played an outstanding match and the three points have really helped us. But now, we’re up against one of the strongest teams in the competition, and we need to play as one team and our reaction time has to be minimal,” said Ammouta.

Tasked with the responsibility of containing formidable talents like Lee Kang-in and Son Heung-min, the Jordan coach is placing his trust in a strategic zonal marking approach to thwart any potential goal-scoring threats.

“Man marking is difficult because it creates large gaps. We prefer to use zonal marking and will resort to man marking only in very specific situations,” he said.

GROUP E
BAHRAIN VS MALAYSIA

Kick-off: 5:30pm
Venue: Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium

There will be no margin for error for either side when Bahrain and Malaysia face off at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium to revive their respective 2023 AFC Asian Cup campaigns.

Both suffered defeats in their opening matches and now victory is needed if they are to keep their hopes of advancing into the Round of 16 alive.

Bahrain are undefeated in their last eight encounters with Malaysia — including a 2-1 win during qualification for the AFC Asian Cup 2023 — but head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said his team won’t be taking their opponents lightly.

“The game against Malaysia is going to be challenging. Both teams share the same ambition of qualifying to the knockout stage. To succeed, we must maintain 100% focus and strive to secure a victory,” said Pizzi.

Bahrain will be without the services of Amine Benaddi, the defender having to come off with an injury in the second half against South Korea, but Pizzi said his team will adapt. 

“The injury to Amine is crucial for the team, both in terms of skill and moral support. Finding a suitable replacement has been challenging, but as always, we’ve plans and ideas to implement on the pitch, and we’ve faith in our strategy,” he said. 

Having conceded four goals against Jordan in their opening fixture, head coach Kim Pan-gon faces another challenge in steering Malaysia past Bahrain.

“We’ll approach the game with the same mentality as our first match. We’ve to be brave, and we want to control and dominate and hit the opponents early and make them struggle. If we don’t do that, then it isn’t the Malaysian way,” said Kim.

“We’d a review of the match against Jordan and we’re helping the players by correcting some tactics and also spending time to recover physically and mentally. We’re fully recovered for this game,” he added.

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