Jordan reached the Asian Cup final for the first time in their history thanks to a richly deserved 2-0 win over South Korea in Qatar.
Second-half strikes from Yazan Al Naimat and Mousa Al-Taamari ended the hopes of Son Heung-min and his team-mates at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium on Tuesday.
Jordan had dominated from the off, with near misses from Hwang In-beom and Lee Jae-sung – and a penalty that was rightly overturned after a VAR check – all that pre-tournament favourites South Korea mustered. Son did not even have a shot.
Al Naimat and Al-Taamari’s quality shone through, and Jordan, who were backed by a vociferous support, will now face Iran or the holders and hosts Qatar in Saturday’s final.
— #AsianCup2023 (@afcasiancup) February 6, 2024
South Korea humbled
Jurgen Klinsmann’s South Korea might have been the big favourites, but first-time semi-finalists Jordan more than took the game to the two-time Asian Cup winners.
Indeed, their expected goals tally of 1.09 in the opening 45 minutes was dwarfing South Korea’s 0.14, until Hwang In-boem’s wild strike from a good position at the end of the half, which accounted for a whopping 0.37 of South Korea’s 0.51 xG before the break, although Lee Jae-sung had struck the woodwork with a header.
Klinsmann’s team might have gone ahead in the first half if not for VAR’s intervention – referee Mohamed Abdulla Hassan Mohd overturning a penalty after consulting the pitchside monitor to conclude Yazan Al Arab had actually been fouled by Seol Young-woo, and not the other way around.
Jordan, who had averaged 12.3 shots per match coming into this game, were finally rewarded for their full-throttle approach eight minutes after the restart when Al Naimat lofted in the opener after great work from Al-Taamari, who turned from provider to scorer with a great finish from outside the box.
That shot was given just an 18 per cent chance of going in, but go in it did, to cap off a thoroughly deserved and historic victory. Jordan finished with 17 shots to South Korea’s eight, and 1.7 xG to their opponent’s 0.82, making them worthy winners.
South Korea last won the Asian Cup in 1960, and the heavyweights just cannot get over the line when it really matters.
Al Naimat shines as Son and Hwang struggle
For the opening 50 minutes, South Korea goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo kept Jordan – and in particular Al Naimat – at bay.
Al Naimat twice carved open South Korea’s defence with mazy runs, but on both occasions, and once with his face, Jo denied Jordan’s striker, but that finally changed when the Al Ahli player kept his cool in a one-v-one to break the deadlock.
Jo finished with five saves, while Al Naimat accumulated 0.85 xG from six attempts, three of which were on target. Indeed, those shots came from touching the ball just 26 times, meaning he averaged an effort every 4.3 touches.
On the flip side, Son and South Korea’s other Premier League regular Hwang Hee-chan, were anonymous going the other way.
From 59 touches, Wolves and forward Hwang did not manage to get off a single shot or play one key pass. It was the same story for Tottenham’s Son.
Only two players – Qatar’s Almoez Ali (10) and UAE’s Ali Mabkhout (nine) – have scored more Asian Cup goals than Son (seven) since 2011, yet South Korea’s superstar was impressively restricted by Jordan. If this was to be the 31-year-old’s final Asian Cup appearance, then it will be one to swiftly forget.
Blunt South Korea surely set to ditch Klinsmann?
South Korea did not have a single attempt on target. It is the first time they have failed to do so in an Asian Cup game since at least 2007, when Opta began collecting such data.
They had to come from behind in four of their five previous matches at this tournament, as many occasions as they had to in their previous 23 games from 2007 to 2019, but that challenge proved too much on Tuesday, and serious questions will now be asked about Klinsmann’s future.
It does not seem like a happy camp, and the gameplan was seemingly to give it to Son and hope he could produce a moment of magic.
On the other hand, Jordan must take the plaudits. They stemmed South Korea’s dangermen.
Having become the 16th different team to reach the Asian Cup semi-finals, this performance will go down in their sporting folklore. Whatever happens from now on, this squad will surely be heroes forever back home.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!