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South Korea's AFC dream dies via collapse against Jordan in semis

By Peter Weis   @PeterVicey

The South Korean national football team's dreams of capturing their first continental championship in 64 years have come to an end following a disastrous outing against Jordan in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup semi-finals. 

Jürgen Klinsmann's "Zombies" - so nicknamed because dramatic goals in stoppage supposedly left teams unable to kill them off - exited with an error-riddled performance that they could not revive themselves from.

Bayern defender Min-Jae Kim was not able to partake due to accumulated yellow suspension. FSV Mainz 05 attacker Lee-Jae Sung - along with many others - missed first-half chances during an overall sloppy performance. 
South Korean Football
South Korean FootballСветлана Бекетова CC-BY-SA 3.0
Jürgen Klinsmann's "Taeguk Warriors" have officially been eliminated from the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. After punching through to the tournament semi-finals via spectacular late goals in both the Round-of-16 and the quarters, the Asian Tigers ran out of luck in the penultimate phase of the competition. A re-match of the nation's second group stage fixture against Jordan ended in a 0-2 defeat. FSV Mainz 05 attacker Lee-Jae Sung missed a crucial chance to give his country the lead in the first half.

A suspension for FC Bayern München center back Min-Jae Kim meant that Mainz's Lee-Jae Sung remained the lone starter in the South Korean squad among the three Bundesliga professionals vying for the title. Lee was among many players to miss quality chances in a sloppy first half from the team on both sides of the ball. The Rheinhessen attacking midfielder headed wide in the 32nd. Former Bundesliga star Heung-Min Son and former Leipzig striker Hwang-Hee Chan also failed to find proper finishes in front of goal.

Klinsmann's side appeared very hesitant and made far too many mistakes in their build-up play. This allowed Hussein Ammouta's Jordanians to unleash a string of counter attackers from which the favored East Asians were lucky to avoid punishment. Although the South Koreans came out of the locker room with renewed courage after the restart, a passing error from Young-Woo Park led to Jordan scoring the 1-0 in the 53rd. Less than 15 minutes later, Musa Suleiman scored the 2-0 on a collective poor mark from the Taeguk back-line.

There would be no comeback for Klinsmann's "Zombies" on this day as Jordan continued to look the far more dangerous side right up until the full-time whistle. VfB Stuttgart's Woo-Yeong Jeong made a brief appearance as a substitute in the final nine minutes, but proceeded to look deflated along with the rest of his team. Jordan have now made history with their first appearance in an AFC Final. The nation itself has only qualified for five tournaments. The Koreans, meanwhile, must contend with more final-stage disappointment.

The Taeguks have now faltered in the semis in four of their last seven tournaments. The nation reached the Final in 2015, ultimately falling to the Aussies. South Korea - a proud footballing nation that has churned out talented players for well over three quarters of a century - won the first two editions of this confederation championship in 1956 and 1960. They've not won since despite making it to the Final match four times. There can be few complaints about the result today and it's questionable as to whether Klinsmann will retain his post.

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