S. Korean striker looks ahead after tournament exit

January 25, 2019

South Korean striker Hwang Ui-jo turned his focus to the future after his first major football tournament ended with regrets on Friday.

South Korea were eliminated from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup after suffering a 1-0 loss to Qatar in the quarterfinals. Hwang was South Korea’s main target man, but failed to solve Qatar’s stubborn defense at Zayed Sports City Stadium.

“Like the Asian Games, I really wanted to win this tournament,” Hwang said to reporter after the match. “But it’s a pity that we got this result.”

South Korea's Hwang Ui-jo attempts a shot on goal during the 2019 AFC Asian Cup quarterfinal match against Qatar at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, on Jan. 25, 2019. (Yonhap)
South Korea's Hwang Ui-jo (C) reacts after his goal was disallowed for offside during the 2019 AFC Asian Cup quarterfinal match against Qatar at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, on Jan. 25, 2019. (Yonhap)
South Korea's Hwang Ui-jo (R) dribbles past a Qatari defender during the 2019 AFC Asian Cup quarterfinal match at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, on Jan. 25, 2019. (Yonhap)

South Korea’s Hwang Ui-jo attempts a shot on goal during the 2019 AFC Asian Cup quarterfinal match against Qatar at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, on Jan. 25, 2019. (Yonhap)

Hwang was the top scorer at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, where South Korea took the gold medal. With his superb performance at the Asian Games, Hwang quickly emerged as the first choice striker for the senior men’s national team coached by Paulo Bento.

The Gamba Osaka forward proved his reputation in the group stage by scoring two goals against the Philippines and China. However, he was silent in the knockout stage.

Against Qatar, Hwang produced South Korea’s first shot on target in the 48th minute with his powerful right footed strike.

After conceding a goal to Qatar in the 78th minute, Hwang managed to tap Lee Yong’s cross into the net, but was ruled for offside following a video review.

“Although we didn’t have many, there were still chances to score,” he said. “Qatar played defensively, and our attackers couldn’t just unlock their defense.”

South Korea fired 10 shots against Qatar, but only two of them went on target. Hwang said his team should have done a better job on offense.

“We should have penetrated their tight defense with organized movements, but we couldn’t,” he said. “I also should have made more quick runs with precision.”

The 2019 Asian Cup was Hwang’s first major tournament since making his international debut in 2015. The 26-year-old now has six goals in 23 caps.

“The Asian Cup exit doesn’t mean we’re over,” he said. “We will have (2022) FIFA World Cup qualifiers and other matches. The players spoke to each other that we should remember this defeat and will have to work hard for the future events with more responsibility.”

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