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AFC Asia Cup: Jordan Pulls Off Surprise Victory Against South Korea, 2-0

AL RAYYAN, Feb. 7, 2024 — Players of Jordan celebrate after the semi-final between Jordan and South Korea at AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Feb. 6, 2024. Copyright: IMAGO

At the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, an electrifying match unfolded as Jordan triumphed over South Korea with a striking 2-0 scoreline, securing their first-ever appearance in the finale of the AFC Asia Cup.

As the game progressed into the second half, Yazan Al-Naimat became the star for Jordan by executing a deft touch to outwit the South Korean goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo. This pivotal moment arrived at the 53rd minute following a sequence of efforts by the Jordanian team that had been heroically thwarted by Hyeon-woo until then.

Elation for the Jordanian fans came once again when Mousa Tamari extended their lead. At the 66th minute, Tamari dazzled on the field with a spectacular long-range curler that found its home in the net.

The South Korean team, despite their efforts, faced difficulties in breaking through the sturdy Jordanian defense. A notable moment for the Koreans occurred after the 30-minute mark when Lee Jae-sung connected with a cross from Hwang In-beom, only to be denied by the post in what would be their closest attempt of the entire game.

Remarkably, Jordan managed this victory while having possession of the ball only 30% of the time. They launched an impressive 17 shots on goal, significantly overshadowing South Korea’s 8 attempts. Jordan also managed to hit the target seven times, whereas South Korea could not record a single shot on target throughout the match.

Significant to the outcome was the absence of South Korea’s key defender, Bayern Munich’s Kim Min-jae, who missed the game due to a suspension. The void left by Min-jae was acutely felt as the South Korean defense struggled to adapt to Jordan’s aggressive and assertive gameplay during the initial half.

Jordan’s journey has been nothing short of a Cinderella story, qualifying for the knockout rounds as one of the best third-place teams from the group stages, despite ranking below South Korea in Group E. This unexpected ascent to the final stages of the tournament has marked them as perhaps the most exhilarating surprise package of this year’s competition.Jordan’s journey through the knockout rounds has been nothing less than spectacular, and it might culminate in the country’s inaugural triumph at the Asia Cup.

The final hurdle for Jordan is set for February 11, when they will clash with the victor of the semi-final between Iran and Qatar. Regardless of their opponent, Jordan is anticipated to be the underdogs due to their relatively modest history in tournament play. Yet, a victory in the final would solidify their campaign as one of the most remarkable underdog tales in the competition’s history.

Disappointing Finish For South Korea

South Korea, a traditionally dominant force in Asian football, has failed to transform their prowess into championships, having not claimed the Asian Cup since their consecutive victories in the 1950s.

This edition of the tournament brought heightened aspirations, as South Korea fielded a team brimming with talent, including European football stars such as Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain), and Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich). Despite this, their quest ended without lifting the trophy.

The defensive line for South Korea was notably weak throughout the tournament, conceding a total of 10 goals in 6 matches, a distinct drop from their sturdier defense in previous tournaments. Holding the 23rd position in the FIFA world rankings, South Korea stands 64 places ahead of Jordan, yet their performance this year did not reflect that gap.South Korea’s football history against Jordan had been untarnished until this point, marked by three victories and three draws out of their six encounters. In their previous face-off during this tournament’s group stage, they settled with a 2-2 draw. 

This Asia Cup could signify a transition period for South Korea’s football scene, as many of its iconic players are nearing the twilight of their careers. The expectation is that the team will undergo a period of regeneration, infusing new, young players into its ranks, which may prove beneficial over time.

The spotlight is inevitably on the team’s manager, Jürgen Klinsmann, who has been steering the team for the past year. Given the dissatisfaction among a segment of the South Korean supporters, Klinsmann’s tenure as manager might be drawing to a close.