June 14 – South Korea cemented their place in the last 12 of Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying in Asia with a 2-1 win over challengers Lebanon.
The Koreans join Australia, Japan and Syria as the only qualified teams for the AFC’s final group qualifying stage – two groups of six with the top two in each group qualifying. There is one round of qualifying left this week to decide the remaining places.
The South Korean win over Lebanon was by no means straightforward with the Taeguk Warriors having to come back from being behind to secure their unbeaten run. Lebanon’s goal was the first the South Koreans had conceded in qualifying.
Soony Saad opened the scoring for Lebanon with a 12th-minute goal before Song Min-kyu’s levelled after half time.
It then took South Korean and Spurs talisman Son Heung-min to score from the penalty spot to ensure they finished six points ahead of second-placed Lebanon.
“I want to evaluate our process through the number of goals we scored and the wins we claimed; we scored 12 goals and conceded one across three matches but regardless of the figure, I believe we are making good progress,” said South Korea’s Portuguese coach Paulo Bento.
“Everything looks rosy when we are winning, but everything is viewed negatively when the team is not doing well. I think the fact that we won by just one goal could give people the impression that this was a tough win.
“There’s a chance that what the players actually did on the pitch may not get as much recognition as it deserved. But getting a difficult win like this is what football is all about.”
Lebanon will not have to wait and see if they go through as one of the best runners-up. A 3-2 defeat to Turkmenistan on June 9 damaged their chances.
Contact the writer of this story at email@example.com