World: Asian Cup
2 - 2
(2 - 1)
South Korea
Y. Alnaimat (45)
S. Heung-Min (9), Y. Yong-Woo (37)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Klinsmann's South Korea narrowly avoid upset loss in second AFC match

Jürgen Klinsmann's Taeguk Warriors of South Korea were narrowly able to avoid a loss against Jordan in their second group stage fixture against Jordan at the 2023 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar on Saturday afternoon. 

A late Jordanian own-goal led to the fixture ending in a 2-2 draw. Both nations are now tied atop Group E on four points, though Jordan remain group leaders on goal differential. 

No AFC nations with German club representatives on their roster have been eliminated yet. This is even the case with Michael Udebuluzor's Hong Kong, who remain alive after two defeats. 
One day after East Asian giants Japan suffered a shock defeat against a Middle Eastern nation at the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, Japan's neighbors South Korea nearly suffered the same fate. Jürgen Klinsmann's Taeguk Warriors - like Japan - won their initial group stage fixture easily, yet struggled in their second match of the competition. The Koreans were only spared an embarrassing loss against Jordan by a late own goal.

Klinsmann's use of the Bundesliga's three South Korean representatives on his team remained the same. FC Bayern München defender Min-Jae Kim and FSV Mainz 05 attacker Lee-Jae Sung started once again while VfB Stuttgart's Woo-Yeong Jeong remained on the bench. The two Bundesliga starters did not equal their performance from Monday's opener.

Former Bundesliga professional Heung-Min Son gave the Asian Tigers an early lead from the penalty spot in the 9th. The Jordanians - who supplied an impressive 4-0 win over Malaysia in their tournament opener - nevertheless kept the scoreline low and caused Klinsmann's side serious problems. Hussein Ammouta's "Chivalrous Ones" took the lead back before half time.

South Korean midfielder Yong-Woo Park headed the equalizer into his own net in the 37th. Striker Yazan Al-Naimat then netted the 2-1 at 45+6. Klinsmann employed a double personnel change at the half in order to reinvigorate his team. The Taeguks managed to earn plenty of possession, but were limited to distance efforts by a compact and disciplined Jordanian defense.

A fluky own-goal from Jordan at 90+1 spared the South Korean blushes. Defender Yazan Abu Al-Arab deflected a shot from the subbed on In-Beom Hwang into the net for the 2-2. The East Asians came close to grabbing a winner at the death. Former SpVgg Unterhaching loanee Hyun-Seok Hong unfortunately hit the side-netting at 90+9.

Bayern's Kim largely looked strong during his full-match shift and was not directly at fault on either Jordanian goal. Mainz's Lee was left on the pitch for 69 minutes by Klinsmann, once again directly substituted for Stuttgart colleague Jeong when the time came to employ a straight swap. The duo of Lee and Jeong were among those getting distance efforts off.

With four points garnered from two matches, the Koreans remain well poised to make the round-of-16. As of yet, there remain no teams with German football representatives on the rosters who have been eliminated from the tournament. This even applies to tournament debutants Hong Kong, who feature FC Ingolstadt forward Michael Udebuluzor.

Udebuluzor's "Isle Dragons" have lost their opening two group stage fixtures against Iran and the U.A.E, yet can still qualify via the third place slot in Group C. Udebuluzor has logged minutes as a substitute in both matches, playing a cumulative total of 41 minutes in the two defeats. Hong Kong face Palestine in their final group stage fixture on Tuesday.

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