Day 4 Review
Japan 4 – 0 Palestine
Iraq 1 – 0 Jordan
Group D joined in the fun today as Newcastle hosted its first game of the tournament with the David v Goliath meeting of Japan v Palestine, Japan of course are the cup favourites whereas Palestine truly are just glad to be here. The game ran out as predicted with a 4-0 win for Japan to emphasise their credentials for the cup.
Japan got an ideal start with a goal in just the eighth minute, Takashi Inui played a lateral ball to Yasuhito Endo around 35 yards from goal he took it on a stride before striking a right foot shot beyond Ramzi Saleh in the Palestinian goal. Japan added a second in the twenty fifth minute when Shinji Kagawa shot from the edge of the box, the ball was going wide but striker Shinji Okazaki showed great awareness and reflexes to get his head in the way and deflect the ball home from eight yards. Japan added a third from the penalty spot from Keisuke Honda in the forty fourth minute after Kagawa was barged down crudely by Musab Battat.
Japan put the game to bed just five minutes in to the second half, a left sided corner from Endo was played to Kagawa who neatly turned to create room for a cross to the far post where Maya Yoshida rose highest six yards out to nod down and home. To add to Palestines woes they also had Ahmed Mahajna dismissed for two yellows. So all is good in the Japanese camp as they look forward to greater challenges in this tournament.
We went back up the coast to Brisbane to see Jordan take on Iraq. The Iraqis were the dominant force apart from a fifteen minute spell in the second half and made that dominance tell eventually with a 1-0 win. The opening half was a tight affair as the teams lacked that wee bit of sparkle in front of goal.
The winning goal in the seventy seventh minute may well win the individual goal of the tournament, Yaser Safa Kasim played a one two with Alaa Abdulzehra to bring him to the edge of the box, he beat three men on his way into the heart of the box with a beautifully balanced run before shooting left footed and getting a deflection to find the net.
During Jordan’s second half purple patch Odai Al Saify missed a decent chance in the fifty ninth minute and Mohammad Mustafa fluffed another effort shortly afterwards. Jordan finished the game with ten men after Anas Bani Yaseen collected his second yellow in the eighty fourth minute, the second card being for a body check/shoulder charge on Saad Abdulameer Al-Dobjahawe which would have made wrestlers wince.
Day 5 Review
South Korea 1 - 0 Kuwait
Australia 4 – 0 Oman
Day 5 brings us back to Group A and the potential to have the first teams qualify for the quarter finals. First up came South Korea against Kuwait in Canberra, Korea were very much the favourites but Kuwait knew that defeat would mean their chance of qualification would be gone. Korea got the victory they wanted with a 1-0 result and thus became the first team to qualify for the next round.
The Koreans had the first chance when Kim Min-Woo sent Lee Keun Ho through one on one with the Kuwaiti keeper Hameed Youssef his effort was on target but the keeper held up a firm hand to tip the ball over. The breakthrough came in the thirty fifth minute when Cha Du Ri tore down the right wing before crossing to the centre where Nam Tae Hee was unable to keep out his header despite getting a hand to it.
Kuwait must have got a bit of a motivational chat in the dressing room at half time as they came out firing and came within a whisker of equalising in the forty ninth minute when Ali Al Maqseed hit the post with lovely effort from 20 yards across the Korean keeper Kim Seung-Gyu. Just a minute later a corner from the right evaded everyone to fall at the feet of Fahad Al Hajeri at the far post, it took him completely by surprise and he was unable to take the chance.
Nine minutes later Al Maqseed again threatened the Korean goal with a curling eighteen yard effort from the left that just cleared the angle of post and bar. Korea reasserted themselves after those scares and chances for Lee Keun Ho, Lee Chung Yong and Park Joo Ho all came and went before the ref put Kuwait out of their misery.
So all eyes moved slightly north east to Sydney where Australia were playing host to Oman, the Socceroos again got the result they wanted with a 4-0 win. Oman had the first chance and it was a near carbon copy of the situation that gave Kuwait their goal against Aus last Friday.
A corner from the left side was hammered toward the top corner by Raed Saleh but Mat Ryan in the Socceroo net leapt to his right to tip the chance over. The nerves susbsided for the home team and they showed enough eagerness and urgency for two teams, which was handy as Kuwait were showing none whatsoever, they sat very deep and applied absolutely no pressure on the Australia midfield for the rest of the game.It came as no shock when Aus went 1-0 up in the twenty seventh minute.
A left sided corner from Massimo Luongo was headed down at the far post by Trent Sainsbury to Matt McKay just a couple of yards out who scooped high into the net. Three minutes later the game was practically safe, a lovely one two between Robbie Kruse and Luongo over 30 yards sent Kruse through to the edge of the box and he finished past a disinterested looking Ali Al Habsi in the Oman goal.
Ten minutes later Kruse hit the outside of the right hand post from twenty five yards with Al Habsi nowhere near the effort. In the second minute of added time Mark Milligan had a goal denied as the ref had decided that Tim Cahill had been fouled just a moment earlier and awarded a penalty. Milligan stepped up to score the spot kick and send the home faves into the changing rooms three goals to the good.
Australia made a couple of early substitutions and they seemed to lose their rhythm for a short while, so much so that they had to wait a full twenty five minutes before they scored again. Matthew Leckie got away down the outside left and crossed low to the edge of the six yard box with the outside of his right foot where Tomi Juric stretched to half volley the goal on the stretch.
The Omani goal continued to lead a charmed life when Al Habsi pulled out a couple of decent saves from close range headers by Juric and Milligan as the Socceroos enjoyed their domination. So the showdown between South Korea and Australia on Saturday will decide who tops the group and who finishes runners up.
Day 6 Review
North Korea 1 - 4 Saudi Arabia
Uzbekistan 1 - 2 China
Day 6 means its back to Group B and first up were North Korea v Saudi Arabia in the imaginatively renamed Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, otherwise known as Aami stadium but we are not allowed to mention any name that is not one of the tournament major sponsors, so keep it to yourself.
The Saudis boosted their chances of qualification from the group with a 4-1 win that means that North Korea cannot qualify. North Korea, who were so defensive in their first game opened brightly here and took the lead in the eleventh minute through Ryang Yong Gi. Pak Kwan Ryong hit a blistering dipping volley from the right corner of the box that the Saudi keeper parried back to the waiting Ryang Yong Gi on the penalty spot who finished nicely. Almost unbelievably it was their first goal in Asian Cup finals since 1992.
Maybe the act of scoring upset the Korean game plan and they surrendered more and more territory to the Saudis which eventually resulted in a thirty seventh minute leveller. The Saudis transferred the ball across the box from left to right before eventually working Naif Hazari into space eight yards out for him to nutmeg Ri Myong Guk in the Korean goal.
The influential Nawaf Al Abid almost added a second when he should remarkable skill to take a dropping ball on his chest and turn and volley in the one movement only to see the Korean stopper turn the effort away.
The second half was more of the same and it came as no surprise when the Saudis, known as the Green Falcons, surely they should feature in a Marvel comic with a name like that, took the lead. The Saudis progressed down their right before working the ball right to left and releasing Abdulla Aldossary into space his drilled cross being stabbed home from six yards by Mohammed Al Sahlawi. Just two minutes later he added a second as the Korean defence decided to dawdle around and pass the ball between themselves.
Eventually Ri Yong Jik decided to switch the play to his right back position, unfortunately Al Sahlawi was standing in the way on the edge of the box, he chested the ball down possibly with an arm involved and rolled the ball home. The fourth arrived twenty three minutes later when a lovely run into the left side of the box by Salem Aldawsari saw him chip against the bar as the ball came down it struck Korean defender Ri Yong Jik on the arm to see a penalty awarded and the defender given an early bath.
Even the penalty wasn’t straight forward, Nawaf Al Abid saw Myong Guk get a hand to his effort and deflect it on to his right hand post, it rolled along the line before hitting the opposite post and bouncing out, back to the inrushing Al Abid to bundle home.
The second game of the day brought us Uzbekistan versus China in Brisbane. China backed by a fabulous following who created a great atmosphere ran out 2-1 winners and qualify for the quarter finals. Uzbekistan took the lead in the twenty second minute, they worked the ball from right to left to find Odil Akhmedov some thirty yards from goal, he dummied a left foot effort cut back onto his right and shot from twenty five yards the ball deflected off the foot of Wu Xi to loop over the keeper Wang Delei and find the net.
China got themselves back on level terms ten minutes into the second half a deep cross from the right by Jiang Zhipeng was turned back into the danger area by Gao Lin who found Wu Xi ten yards out to half volley home on the turn.
Thirteen minutes later China went ahead substitute Su Ke took possession forty yards out toward the left hand side of the pitch he took it to the edge of the D and as three defenders converged upon him unleashed a curling right footed effort to score. Eleven minutes later China nearly added a third when Wu Lei got onto a short back pass, Ignatiy Nesterov managed to block the initial effort and was relieved to see the second effort go wide.
So China qualify and the showdown between Uzbekistan v Saudi Arabia will decide who else qualifies.