Thu, Jul 19, 2007 - Page 20 News List

S Korea squeeze past Indonesia

DESPAIR Indonesia, who seemed to have arrived in the land of the giants, had their dreams crushed by the tallest men the South Korea coach could find

AFP , JAKARTAAFP, PELAMBANG, INDONESIA

Indonesia captain Ponaryo Astaman, right, looks on as South Korean Cho Jae-jin kicks the ball in their Asian Cup Group D soccer match at the Bung Karno stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

South Korea squeezed into the Asian Cup quarter-finals with a narrow 1-0 victory over co-hosts Indonesia yesterday.

South Korea took second place in Group D behind Saudi Arabia, who thrashed Bahrain 4-0, and thus ended plucky Indonesia's dreams.

As always with games involving the co-hosts it started at a frantic pace and Indonesia should have had a penalty after just three minutes.

Elie Aiboy won a race to the ball in the penalty box and he nicked it away from goalkeeper Lee Woon-jae, only to be brought down by a combination of goalkeeper and covering defender.

But Korea were given a lucky reprieve by referee Mark Shield of Australia.

South Korea coach Pim Verbeek had loaded his side with tall players -- eight of the starting 11 measured at least 1.82m, all much taller than any Indonesian player -- and it was clear they were looking for free-kicks around the box.

Indonesia, who appeared to have arrived in the land of the giants, could have gone in front on 28 minutes after a sweeping counter-attack with the ball transferred quickly from Budi Sudarsono to Bamabang Pamungkas and on to Elie, but after working some space he curled his effort high and wide.

South Korea went in front six minutes later after good work on the edge of the box from Lee Chun-soo who beat three tackles and teed up Kim Jung-woo, who's shot took a deflection to leave goalie Markus Rihihina rooted to the spot.

Indonesia did not wilt, though, and in first-half injury time came close again, but no-one made it into the six-meter box to turn home Elie's dangerous cross.

A minute from time Elie was presented with a great chance to equalize and send Indonesia into the knock-out phase, but he lost his footing as he was about to pull the trigger.

After he hit the deck, several of his team-mates also slumped to their knees in despair.

Saudi Arabia thrash Bahrain

Saudi Arabia thrashed Bahrain 4-0 yesterday to secure the points they needed to book a place in the Asian Cup quarter-finals.

Goals from Ahmed Al Mousa and Abdulrahman Al Qahtani and a brace by Taisir Al Jassam were enough for the Saudis to top Group D and join South Korea in the last eight after they beat Indonesia 1-0 in Jakarta.

It means Saudi Arabia remain in Jakarta for their quarter-final against the second placed team from Group C, while South Korea must travel to Kuala Lumpur to meet the winner of Group C.

For tiny Bahrain, semi-finalists in China three years ago, the tournament is over.

Al Mousa gave Saudi Arabia the lead on 17 minutes, dribbling round goalkeeper Abdulkarim and side-footing home after a defender lost his footing to set him free.

Bahrain threw everything they had at the Saudi goal in the second half and went close on occasion, but Al Jassam put the result beyond doubt in the 68th minute when he unleashed a 30m drive that crashed into the left hand corner.

He rubbed salt in their wounds 11 minutes later when the Bahraini defense was caught napping and he made no mistake from 6m with just the keeper to beat.

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