Group B: DPR Korea 2-2 Jordan
Kuala Lumpur: DPR Korea and Jordan played to a 2-2 draw in their AFC U-16 Championship Malaysia 2018 Group B opener at the MBPJ Stadium on Friday.
Both sides began the match cautiously, but DPR Korea held the lion’s share of possession with their heavy man-to-man marking and constantly forced Jordan into a defensive position with their crosses into the final third, forcing goalkeeper Osama Raed Mahmoud into making multiple saves.
The East Asians had a scare in the 12th minute when Jordan’s Mohannad Jehad Ahmad Semreen moved out a counter-attack that saw him surging from his end of the field to the other end, outmaneuvering several Korean defenders but his last ditch pass into the box failed to find any of his teammates.
In the 19th minute, DPR Korea were awarded a free-kick from 30 metres out when Jordan’s Obada Omar Alruzi fouled Kim Kang-song.
Defender Kim Jin-hyok’s free-kick bounced off the Jordanian wall, but the deflected ball landed right in front of Kang-song, who then let loose a strike from near the penalty spot to claim the lead a minute later.
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Abdallah Samih Elqutati’s boys paid no mind to their deficit but mostly played on the counter. And in such instance in the 31st minute, Rashed Ibrahim Alhanahneh dashed down the middle before sending a perfectly-timed pass to Mohannad Jehad Ahmad Semreen, who was too quick for Korean captain Pak Ryong-gwon, and the No. 11 midfielder unleashed a crackling right-footed strike to level the scores.
Kang-song kept the West Asians’ backline on their toes as they were struggling to deal with DPR Korea’s long range crosses to him, and the Korean midfielder shined once again a minute before half-time when he beat both defender Mohammad Hisham Ali and ‘keeper Raed Mahmoud with his strike to the bottom right corner, courtesy of Ri Hun’s cross over the Jordanian defence to take the lead going into the break.
Despite the one-goal lead, DPR Korea were unwilling to let up against opponents who head coach Pak Jong-chol believes is the strongest team in the group.
Fifteen minutes from time, Jordan were rewarded for their persistence when substitute Amin Farid Al Shanaineh forced DPR Korea custodian Ri Kyong-won into making a last-gasp block, only for Amer Rasem Jamous to find the back of the net with his follow-up effort to equalise.
The back-and-forth encounter persisted into the closing minutes and both will take pride with their fantastic performance as they settled for a hard-fought draw and a point each.
Pak Jong-chol: DPR Korea head coach
“I am totally satisfied with our players performance for today’s match, but the draw is a little bit of a disappointment. He (Kim Kang-song) is one of our top players, and he has a very good control and strikes.”
Abdallah Samih Elqutati: Jordan head coach
“I think the first match for this competition is surely hard, and that’s what we expected against DPR Korea, who are one of the best teams and have a very good history. I think most of the time, we didn’t give our best performance. But it was still a good result, especially against DPR Korea.”
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