S. Korea wins 2 straight over Algeria in Olympic football friendlies

March 28, 2016
South Korean Olympic football team players celebrate after Moon Chang-jin (7) scored the team's third goal against Algeria during their friendly match at Goyang Complex Stadium in Goyang, north of Seoul, on March 28, 2016. (Yonhap)

South Korean Olympic football team players celebrate after Moon Chang-jin (7) scored his second goal of the match against Algeria during their friendly match at Goyang Complex Stadium in Goyang, north of Seoul, on March 28, 2016. (Yonhap)

GOYANG, South Korea (Yonhap) — The South Korean men’s Olympic football team defeated Algeria 3-0 for their second straight victory over the Africans in a friendly Monday.

With more than 14,300 fans gathered at Goyang Complex Stadium in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, north of Seoul, midfielder Moon Chang-jin grabbed a brace for the 10-man hosts after Lee Chang-min had the opener. In their first encounter on Friday, South Korea beat Algeria 2-0.

For their second match, the young Taeguk Warriors started with a 3-4-3 formation. It was the first time since the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship semifinals against Qatar on Jan. 27 that head coach Shin Tae-yong used three defenders. In the previous meeting against Algeria, South Korea used a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Midfielder Ryu Seung-woo almost put South Korea on the board in the 15th minute when he missed the empty net after Algerian goalkeeper Farid Chaal had left the box to clear the ball. Algeria’s Oussama Darfalou created a one-on-one chance in the 21st, but the South Koreans dodged the bullet as the forward chipped the ball over the net.

Just a minute after the critical moment, South Korea got the opening goal, thanks to the towering striker Kim Hyun. The 190-centimeter Jeju United forward headed down Sim Sang-min’s throw-in from the left and midfielder Lee Chang-min, Kim’s Jeju teammate, struck it with his right foot for the lead.

After setting up the opener, Kim then tried to get in on the scoring act. He took a couple shots from just outside the box and also delivered a header, but none of his efforts found the net before the half-time whistle.

The teams each substituted three players to spice up the game in the second half. For this friendly, South Korea and Algeria agreed to no substitution limits on the number of players.

While the Algerians pushed up for an equalizer, South Korea doubled the lead in the 59th when Kim this time passed the ball to Moon, who fired one with his left foot from outside the box to beat the goalkeeper.

Algeria did find the back of the net in the 72nd, but Darfalou was called for offsides when Houcine Benayada was taking a shot from the right side of the box.

Moon, who also scored a goal against Algeria last Friday, got his second goal of the match a minute later by converting a penalty drawn by forward Park In-hyeok. After Park was pushed down by Raouf Benguit in the Algerian box, Moon stepped up to take the spot-kick and made the score 3-0.

In the 79th, South Korea became 10-man after Park Yong-woo was sent off with his second yellow card of the game.

Algeria made their last efforts by pushing players forward, but they failed to test South Korean goalkeeper Gu Sung-yun till the end.

Both South Korea and Algeria have qualified for the Rio de Janeiro Summer Games in August. South Korea finished runner-up in the AFC U-23 Championship in January, while Algeria were second in the 2015 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations.

Shin said that his players played better Monday than in the first match and praised their attacking midfielders who produced goals in both contests. However, the coach said that their full backs still need to work harder.

“It was disappointing that our full backs Sim Sang-min and Lee Seul-chan didn’t execute their jobs well,” he said. “But other than that, our players did a great job by creating plays together.”

The 45-year-old said that having three players at the back worked fine, but admitted that there were dangerous moments after his players committed pass mistakes. Shin, however, said that it is still encouraging to have two clean sheet victories.

“I’m not the guy who scolds players for making mistakes,” he said. “I help players gain confidence by telling them they didn’t concede a goal. If they are making five mistakes now, I want to make them commit two mistakes at the Olympics.”

Shin said he will travel to Germany next month to check players in Europe and will go to Rio to attend the group draw for the Olympic football tournament on April 14. The U-23 team will be reassembled in late May for friendly matches, but until then he wants the players to stay sharp.

“These players now have to go back to their clubs and work hard,” he said. “I will probably take these players to the next friendly matches as well, but those who play until the final match will be included on the final 18-man squad for the Olympics.”