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AFC Asian Cup

Kim Pan-gon lauds Malaysia's result; Klinsmann demands improvement from South Korea

Published at :January 26, 2024 at 7:37 PM
Modified at :January 26, 2024 at 7:37 PM
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(Courtesy : AFC Media)

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Malaysia fought until the end to hold South Korea in the AFC Asian Cup.

Kim Pan-gon applauded his Malaysian players for not giving up in their thrilling 3-3 draw with Korea Republic in their final AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 Group E tie at the Al Janoub Stadium on Thursday.

The Southeast Asian side equalised in the 15th minute of added time, having led 2-1 at one stage, with Kim glad that his players had something noteworthy to return home with after having suffered defeats against Jordan and Bahrain. 

“For us, a fantastic result,” said Kim. “Congratulations to all the players. It was a great game and I’m grateful to all the players.

“Actually it was very difficult to motivate the players for this game after we failed to go to the Round of 16 but we told the players that we were facing Asia’s top team, a Premier League top scorer and a Bundesliga defender.”

“I’m very proud of my players. We struggled in the first half but we came back in the second half. The equaliser at the end is an amazing result for us.

“Korea is top quality, you can see from the possession stats. We will gain a lot from this experience.”

Jeong Woo-yeong put the Taeguk Warriors ahead but Malaysia turned the game around early in the second half through efforts from Faisal Halim and Arif Aiman. 

However, Korea Republic responded with late goals from Lee Kang-in and Son Heung-min before Morales had the last say in a topsy-turvy match.

Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was less pleased with the result, pointing to the huge amount of ball possession his Korea Republic side had but said he knew the areas that needed improvement ahead of the bumper Round of 16 tie against Saudi Arabia.

“You saw a very exciting game with six goals,” said the German legend. “Obviously I’m very angry at how we conceded the goals.

“When you control a game as much as we did, things like this happen when you don’t get a two-goal advantage. We can do better in the defensive transition but overall, the group stage is done and now the tournament really starts.”

“It wasn’t our plan to concede three goals today just to avoid Japan. We wanted to go through as group winners and the team tried. Malaysia played with a lot of heart but we should have won this game.

“The knockout stage is different to the group stage but every team is difficult to play as we have experienced. No matter who we meet in the Round of 16, if we want to win the tournament, we have to beat everybody.”

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