Minus top defender, Korea looks to continue magical ride vs. Jordan in semifinals

Son Heung-min of Korea rides a stationary bike before a training session at Al Egla Training Site in Doha ahead of the semifinal match against Jordan at the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup, Feb. 3. Yonhap

No matter how you slice it, Korea’s run to the semifinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup in Qatar, featuring late equalizers and a shootout win, has been an exhilarating one, certainly not for the faint-hearted.After staving off elimination with last-gasp goals in back-to-back matches, the Taegeuk Warriors will try to extend their magical run toward their first Asian Cup title since 1960, when they take on Jordan in the semifinals this week.Korea, ranked 23rd, and Jordan, world No. 87, will meet for the second time in this tournament at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, west of Doha, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, when it will be midnight Wednesday in Korea.Korea will be without center back Kim Min-jae. The Bayern Munich defender picked up his second yellow card of the tournament late in the quarterfinals against Australia and thus received an automatic suspension for the semifinals.Jordan have lost two players for the semifinals due to two yellow cards: defender Salem Al-Ajain and forward Ali Olwan. The two countries first met during the group stage. On Jan. 20, Jordan built a 2-1 lead at halftime and stayed in front until Yazan Al-Arab was charged with an own goal during second-half stoppage time. Korea’s skipper, Son Heung-min, admitted afterward his team was fortunate to walk away with that point.Korea struggled to get much going on offense against the physical and stout Jordan defense. And Korean defenders, especially on the flanks, looked flustered at times trying to handle speedy opposing attackers.

Both teams have since gone through a roller coaster ride.Korea played an even worse game in their group finale, being held to a 3-3 draw against lowly Malaysia after allowing a late equalizer. Then in the round of 16 against Saudi Arabia, Korea were minutes away from having their title dreams crash and burn, and then Cho Gue-sung headed home a late equalizer to send the match into extras. Korea prevailed on penalties 4-2.More last-minute magic helped Korea snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against Australia in the quarterfinals Friday. Son drew a penalty during second-half stoppage time, and Hwang Hee-chan converted the kick to tie the score at 1-1. Then in extra time, Hwang set up a free kick just outside the box, and then Son scored a cracking curler for the eventual 2-1 win.After nearly upsetting Korea, Jordan took a 1-0 loss to Bahrain in their final group match to finish third in Group E. In the round of 16, they rallied past Iraq 3-2 with two goals during second-half added time, after Iraq’s second goal scorer, Aymen Hussein, was sent off for excessive celebration of his goal.Jordan then needed an own goal by Tajikistan to win their quarterfinal 온라인카지노 match 1-0 on Friday.

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