Geum Yi

S. Korea blanks Thailand to set new shutout win record

March 27, 2016
South Korean men's football team players celebrate after scoring a goal against Thailand during their friendly match at Suphachalasai Stadium in Bangkok on March 27, 2016. (Yonhap)

South Korean men’s football team players celebrate after scoring a goal against Thailand during their friendly match at Suphachalasai Stadium in Bangkok on March 27, 2016. (Yonhap)

BANGKOK/SEOUL (Yonhap) — South Korea beat Thailand 1-0 in a friendly match on Sunday to set a new national record for most consecutive shutout wins.

With nearly 20,000 Thai fans packed at Suphachalasai Stadium in Bangkok, South Korea edged Thailand, thanks to an early first-half goal by striker Suk Hyun-jun. South Korea have now posted eight clean-sheet wins in a row, breaking the previous record of seven set in 1978 and matched in 1989.

For the last eight matches, South Korea, coached by Uli Stielike, have scored 26 goals while conceding none.

South Korea have also revenged their stunning 2-1 loss to Thailand at the quarterfinals of the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games, the last time the two had met. The Taeguk Warriors now have 31 wins, seven draws and nine losses against Thailand.

Against world No. 118 Thailand, the 57th-ranked South Korea started seven players who didn’t feature against Lebanon at the second Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Thursday. Stielike also used two strikers — Lee Jeong-hyeop and Suk Hyun-jun — for the first time from the start, pressuring Thai defenders with their strong physique and height.

South Korea took the lead only four minutes into the match when Suk, after receiving a pass from Koh Myong-jin, blasted a shot from just outside box with his right foot and beat Thai goalkeeper Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool.

Thailand almost leveled the score and broke South Korea’s clean sheet record in the 20th, when midfielder Kroekrit Thawikan missed wide with a volley off an Adisak Kraisorn cross.

South Korea could have doubled the lead in the 32nd when Lee Jeong-hyeop headed down winger Nam Tae-hee’s cross, but the attempt went straight to the goalkeeper.

Trailing 1-0, the hosts substituted four players at the start of the second half, while South Korea replaced center backs Kim Young-gwon and Hong Jeong-ho with Kim Kee-hee and Kwak Tae-hwi, the two defenders who played full-time against Lebanon.

South Korea opened the second half with Suk’s left-foot shot in the box, but Thailand started to push their attacks with long-range shots and corner kicks. Stielike’s side could have quashed Thailand’s rally in the 64th when captain Ki Sung-yueng missed high on a rebound after Sinthaweechai had parried a Lee Jeong-hyeop shot.

Five minutes later, Thailand had their best chance to get an equalizer when substitute Sarach Yooyen took a shot in the box, but goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu dove to his right to get a piece of the ball.

The teams exchanged shots late into the match, but neither side scored in the three minutes of stoppage time.

Stielike said that South Korea deserved to win, emphasizing that his team created more chances than Thailand.

“Thinking about techniques and tactics, I think both teams played an equal game,” he said after the match. “However, we created about three perfect chances to score and considering this, we deserved to win.”

The 61-year-old German, however, said that there are things to improve.

“In football, there are two types of mistakes: those that force us to reorganize our defense and those that can determine the results of the match,” he said. “Today, we made mistakes of the latter type and played a difficult game in terms of defense.”

Stielike said that players have not displayed their usual performance because they were pressured by the consecutive shutout win record. However, the coach said he is proud of setting a new record in the end.

“History is not important in football,” he said. “What’s important is the future, so we will perform better.”

South Korea and Thailand could meet again at the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Both have booked their spots in that phase after clinching top seeds in their groups in the second round.