Two-pronged attack for S. Korea shows promise in World Cup qualifying win

유지호 / 2022-01-27 23:11:49
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▲ Cho Gue-sung of South Korea (L) celebrates his goal against Lebanon with teammate Hwang Ui-jo during the teams' Group A match in the final Asian qualifying round for the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Saida International Stadium in Sidon, Lebanon, on Jan. 27, 2022. (Yonhap)

▲ Cho Gue-sung of South Korea (L) celebrates his goal against Lebanon with teammate Lee Jae-sung during the teams' Group A match in the final Asian qualifying round for the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Saida International Stadium in Sidon, Lebanon, on Jan. 27, 2022. (Yonhap)

▲ Hwang Ui-jo of South Korea (R) and Joan Oumari of Lebanon chase the loose ball during the teams' Group A match in the final Asian qualifying round for the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Saida International Stadium in Sidon, Lebanon, on Jan. 27, 2022. (Yonhap)

▲ Hwang Ui-jo of South Korea (C) attempts a shot against Lebanon during the teams' Group A match in the final Asian qualifying round for the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Saida International Stadium in Sidon, Lebanon, on Jan. 27, 2022. (Yonhap)

football-performance

Two-pronged attack for S. Korea shows promise in World Cup qualifying win

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Jan. 27 (Yonhap) -- With their longtime captain and attacking force Son Heung-min sidelined with an injury, South Korea looked elsewhere for offense against Lebanon in their latest World Cup qualifying match on Thursday.

And they found it from the new-look attacking duo up front.

Forward Cho Gue-sung scored South Korea's lone goal in their 1-0 victory at Saida International Stadium in Sidon, south of Beirut. It was set up by a gorgeous feed from his forward partner, Hwang Ui-jo, with the clock ticking down on the first half.

When all of his top players are available, head coach Paulo Bento often deploys Hwang as the lone striker, with the likes of Son and Hwang Hee-chan, who also missed this game with an injury, backing him up on the wings.

This time, Bento paired Hwang Ui-jo with Cho, an emerging offensive option who celebrated his 24th birthday on Tuesday. Hwang has been South Korea's top scorer since Bento's tenure begin in August 2018 with 13 goals, while Cho was playing in just his seventh match. Cho had scored his first international goal in a friendly victory over Iceland on Jan. 15.

Hwang, who wasn't called up for the friendly, said this week that he had taken note of Cho's play and come away impressed. The 29-year-old veteran of 41 caps also said he welcomed more internal competition for playing time.

Hwang and Cho ended up playing together, and Bento couldn't have asked for much more from the new partnership.

The goal-scoring play was something to behold. Hwang, playing the role of a setup man, sent a sharp cross from the left side. Smelling the rare scoring opportunity against a physical Lebanon defense, Cho deftly cut into open space between two defenders and redirected the ball into the net with a slide.

Cho quickly jumped into Hwang's arms to celebrate his first goal in a World Cup qualifying match.

When Cho wasn't taking shots or making passes, he was helping out on defense, putting pressure on opposing ball carriers and covering a ton of ground. He had already shown his potential as a two-way force in earlier friendly matches and got to showcase those abilities in a match that mattered more.

Hwang tried to join his new sidekick on the score sheet. He fired a hard shot right at goalkeeper Mostafa Matar in the 80th minute, and then rolled a weak shot toward the net from just inside the box some three minutes later.

Still, their partnership was impressive given that the pitch was barely playable in several areas. It should be interesting to see how the two will play off each other in better playing conditions.

(END)

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