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Asian Qualifiers – Group H Preview: Lebanon out to stun Korea Republic to keep hopes alive

Goyang City: Lebanon will aim to shock table-toppers Korea Republic in the final Group H game as they attempt to secure their place in the final round of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers and at the AFC Asian Cup China 2023. 

Hosts Korea Republic effectively won the group with victory over Sri Lanka on Wednesday while Lebanon's defeat to Turkmenistan earlier that day left their qualification hopes firmly in the balance.

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The stakes are high when Lebanon face Korea Republic at Goyang Stadium on Sunday with the Lebanese looking for a positive result in order to enhance their chances of reaching the final round of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers as one of the best-placed runners-up.

Three points behind Korea but with a vastly inferior goal difference, Lebanon go into into their crunch match against the East Asians looking to upset the odds as they also aim to seal automatic qualification to the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Finals.

Wednesday's 3-2 loss to Turkmenistan, however, left the Cedars in a perilous position, and they now take on Korea without their suspended captain Nour Mansour, who was dismissed late on in the defeat. In more positive news, striker Hilal El Helwe returns after serving his one-match ban.

Korea Republic, meanwhile, have eased to successive 5-0 wins over Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka since the Asian Qualifiers resumed in their homeland as they eradicated any lingering doubts that the Lebanese could leapfrog them into top spot.

A Kim Shin-wook brace as well as goals from Lee Dong-gyeong, Hwang Hee-chan and debutant Jung Sang-bin secured the result against the Sri Lankans that effectively sealed their passage to the next phase as group winners.

Paulo Bento's team go into the game looking to preserve their unbeaten record, having won four and drawn one of their five games, while if they can keep another clean sheet they will advance without having conceded a goal.

The only time the Taeguk Warriors have dropped points was back in November 2019 when they played out a goalless draw with Lebanon in Beirut in what was their final Asian Qualifiers match prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Korea Republic vs Lebanon
Venue: Goyang Stadium, Goyang City
Kick-off: Sunday, 15:00 hours (UTC+9)

*Polls end at 14:00 hours (UTC+8) on June 13.

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