Still Unbeaten

Saudi Arabia and Korea has drawn 1-1 in their opening match in the Asian Cup. The result was expected, though I thought the match would be goalless. Unfortunately, the first half did not live up to the reputation of two of Asia’s top teams. The Koreans were missing some of their players in Europe, while the Saudi side was young and inexperienced. They had only a couple of scoring chances for Yassir and Malek, and the Koreans had a few more chances, but no one was able to score.

After the break, Korea were more determined to score in the same time that Saudis looked passive and vulnerable. Saudi defenders did not exert much pressure on on their opponents. It was as if our team were waiting for the Koreans to score first, and that’s what actually happened. On the 66th minute, a long cross from the left side finds Choi Sung-kuk, who gave his team in the lead with an easy header.

Ten minutes after later, Malek won a penalty after he tried to go round a Korean defender, who had no choice but to push Malek to the ground. Yassir, skipper of the national team, sent the keeper the wrong way to score the equalizer.

On the 85th minute, a power failure in the stadium caused the match to stop for half an hour until the error was fixed. In the injury time, Saudi substitute Saad al-Harthi gets a chance to win the match when he had a one-on-one confrontation with the Korean keeper, but he recklessly side-netted it.

Saad al-Harthi screams

It was obvious that Korea enjoyed a tactical edge over Saudi Arabia, but on individual basis, Saudi players have better skills and technique. Back in defense, they have shown some excellent teamwork, and Osama Hawsawi has performed very well that some people started asking: “Montashari who?”

Local sports media celebrated the draw, describing the national team performance as “convincing.” IMHO, it was a good start for this competition, although it could have been worse. Anjos should seriously consider some changes to his line-up because we obviously had many problems in the midfield, especially on the right side. The next match will be against group leaders and hosts Indonesia tomorrow. Theoretically, Indonesia are much weaker, but their win in the first match against Bahrain should be a lesson for our team.

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