AFC U19 Championship: 5 talking points from the Final between South Korea and Saudi Arabia

The 2018 AFC U19 Championship finally came to a close, with Saudi Arabia beating the most successful team in the history of the competition- South Korea. As the Green Falcons grabbed the win on the night, plenty of talking points from the final emerged. 

#1 Saudi Arabia’s Opening Blitz

Both Saudi Arabia and South Korea entered the Pakansari Stadium on the back of an impressive tournament. However, no sooner than the match had started, an obvious favourite emerged.

It’s safe to say the Green Falcons came out of the blocks flying. MVP of the tournament, Turki Al Ammar netted the opening goal in under two minutes after a rebound fell in his path. Saudi Arabia didn’t get complacent from there on in. Instead, they kept tightening the screw and scored the second goal twenty minutes later.

Al Ghannam picked up the ball outside the box, opened up some space for himself and netted an absolute gem; which eventually proved to be the decider.

#2 Potential Red Card overlooked?

The tempo of the first period fell down after Saudi Arabia’s early blitz. There were no more clear-cut chances and both the teams proceeded to their respective dressing rooms to prepare for the second half.

And it was South Korea who started the half brightly. The introduction of Yim Jae-Hyeok proved to be key, as the Daeseuk Warriors tried to find their way back into the match.

However, another substitute, Jeong Ho-Jin could’ve laid waste to their work in the second half, as he escaped a red card. Ho-Jin raced towards the Saudi goalkeeper as he tried to clear the ball. However, the South Korean decided to slide at the last moment with his leg up and studs out. Nevertheless, the referee let Ho-Jin walk with just a yellow card.

#3 Ray of Hope

Saudi Arabia’s first-half hard work fell into jeopardy, as the Koreans starting gathering momentum. Several attacks towards the Saudi goal eventually proved to be of value, as the Daegseuk Warriors earned a penalty.

Cho Young Wook, who had already scored two penalties in the competition before the final, stepped up and netted his third.

Young-Wook’s goal breathed new life into the South Korean team, as they started believing in the impossible. They would have been level as well, if not for the unfortunate youngster sitting at number 4.

#4 Miss of the tournament?

Jeon Se-jin has been South Korea’s player of the tournament. With Cho Young-Wook grabbing the headlines during the group stage, Se-Jin showed his true talent during the knockout stages. The youngster grabbed one goal in the quarterfinal against Tajikistan before following up with a brace against Qatar in the semis.

However, in football, you make one mistake and everything else is forgotten. That is perhaps being too harsh on the 19-year-old. Nevertheless, Se-Jin’s miss would come back to haunt him for days.

The youngster raced clear at the far post and was supplied with the ball on a platter. However, with just a yard between him and the open goal, Se-Jin skyed his shot. With South Korea trailing 2-1, that could’ve been the ‘Golden Moment’. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

#5 Deserved Champions

When the AFC U19 Championships arrived in 2016, it had been 24 years since Saudi Arabia had won it. The Green Falcons were keen to end the drought and came agonisingly close to doing so as well. However, despite possessing both the joint-top scorers of the tournament, they ended up firing a blank in the Final and lost to Japan on penalties.

Two years later, the Green Falcons were out to right the wrongs of their predecessors. Once again, they went through the competition with ease, entering the final unbeaten. They even avenged their final defeat two years prior, when they knocked out Japan in the semis.

With their big-match credentials in doubt, Saudi Arabia stepped up and delivered a performance well worth the trophy.

26 years later, the AFC U19 trophy is once again back with the Green Falcons.

 

(Image Credits: AFC)

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