AFC U-16 Championship: Korea Republic maintain perfect start

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Korea Republic continued their perfect start in Group D of the AFC U-16 Championship on Tuesday with an emphatic 7-0 win over Afghanistan at the Petaling Jaya Stadium.

The South Koreans opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when a long throw by Lee Tae-seok was flicked on by Choi Min-seo, and Ahn Gi-hun reacted quickest to slide in and stab the ball home from four yards out.

Five minutes after the half-hour mark, Ahn struck again when he pounced after Esmatullah Kazimi completely missed an attempted clearance header, racing through before driving a shot past Sharif Aminzada.

Ahn Gi-hun gave the Afghanistan defence the slip time and time again.

By now, Korea Republic were completely in control of proceedings and duly added a third in the final minute of the half.

Picking up possession just outside the area, Lee burst past a defender and hit the byline before playing a cross into the six-yard box, where Kazimi – in a bid to make an interception – could only divert the ball into his own goal.

A minute after the restart, Lee weighed in with another vital contribution as he once again found space down the left and floated a neat cross for Paik Sang-hoon to glance into the bottom corner.

Left-back Lee Tae-seok was a livewire for the South Koreans down the flank.

With such a commanding lead in their grasp, the South Koreans could have been forgiven for taking their foot of the pedal and coach Kim Jung-soo did opt to give a couple of his first-eleven players an early rest by the hour mark.

Instead, those that came on in their place had other ideas as they looked to stake their claim for a starting berth in upcoming games.

A fifth goal arrived in the 59th minute when Hong Yun-sang got in behind down the opposition defence down the left and, after his cross-shot was spilled by Aminzada, Jeong Sang-bin was left with a simple tap-in barely a minute after coming on.

Four minutes later, Jeong was at it again when fellow substitute Jo Jin-ho’s corner was nodded on into his path, making no mistake in steering a header into the back of the net.

And, in the 67th minute, the rout was completed as Jeong embarked on an enterprising run down the right and held off two challenges before feeding a pass to Hong, who coolly took it past Aminzada before smashing a shot in from a tight angle.

Despite picking up six points from two games, Korea Republic are not yet guaranteed a place in the quarters but only need a draw against Iraq on Friday to do so.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan are also not completely out of it but must beat Australia to stand any chance of progress.

AFGHANISTAN: Sharif Aminzada (Hadi Alizada 90+2’), Mohammad Amin Nezami, Abdul Munir Hazrati, Esmatullah Kazimi, Sajad Ali Khalili, Faizuddin Shirzad, Mohammad Haroon Naseri (Mahdi Ibrahimi 44’), Samir Samandari, Edris Zamani (Ibrahim Dawood 90+3’), Ali Zahidi, Ahmad Zakaria Hussaini.

KOREA REPUBLIC: Shin Song-hoon, Son Ho-jun, Hong Sung-wook, Lee Jun-suk, Lee Tae-seok, Yoon Suk-ju, Paik Sang-hoon, Ahn Gi-hun, Seo Jae-min (Jo Jin-ho 46’), Hong Yun-sang (Bang Woo-jin 76’), Choi Min-seo (Jeong Sang-bin 58’).