After a rather disappointing qualifying campaign which also saw the departure of coach Cho Kwang-Rae, South Korea needed only a draw from their final game to ensure progress into the 3rd round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
New coach Choi Kang-Hee (who has previously tasted success with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the Korean K-League) saw his new side defeat Uzbekistan at the weekend and so was going into this game full of confidence but also a huge amount of pressure.
Korea’s opponents for this final game of qualifying were Kuwait who themselves needed a win to reach the 3rd round. There preparation for the game didn’t go according to plan as they sadly fell to a 2-0 defeat away against China.
The game started with Kuwait looking the fresher and with Korea looking very nervous, however after 25minutes the game and Korea settled down. Both sides exchanged half chances as well as numerous fouls. The first half ended with the sides level at 0-0.
Whatever Choi Kang-Hee said at half time seemed to have the desired effect as Korea started the stronger and as the minutes ticked by Kuwait looked more and more stretched. Finally with 67minutes on the clock Jeonbuk striker Lee Dong-Gook (formally of Middlesbrough) put the ball into the net pass the keeper and a number of diving defenders. 4 Minutes later it was 2-0 has Korea eased into the Kuwaiti box with Ulsan forward Lee Keun-ho on hand to give Korea the lead and the win.
Korea must now wait until the end of March to discover who they will be facing in the 3rd round, however they will be glad to know they won’t be lining up against neighbors North Korea who failed to qualify as well as other big names China and Saudi Arabia who also failed to progress.