South Korea suffers deflating 1-0 loss to Tunisia at home

May 28, 2014
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Kim Young-kwon, left, and Han Kook-young, right, send signal to bench after Hong Jung-ho goes down with injury. (Yonhap)

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Sloppy and unorganized on both ends, South Korea dropped to Tunisia 1-0 in its final match at home before the World Cup on Wednesday.

Zouhaier Dhaouadi scored on a breakaway moments before the end of the first half at Seoul World Cup Stadium, and the 49th-ranked visitors held on for their first victory under new coach Georges Leekens, who took over the reins in March.

It was a deflating loss for South Korea, ranked 55th, in its final match at home before the World Cup in Brazil. The national team will travel to Miami on Friday to set up camp there and will take on Ghana on June 9 in the final tune-up ahead of the big tournament.

In 15 matches on head coach Hong Myung-bo’s watch since last July, South Korea has five wins, seven losses and three draws, with 15 goals scored and 18 goals allowed.

Both teams had a cagey start before Koo Ja-cheol had South Korea’s first chance in the 14th minute. Lee Yong found the South Korean captain alone near the top of the arc but the Mainz forward sent the ball wide of the right post with his left foot.

South Korea failed to take advantage of superiority in ball possession, with winger Son Heung-min shooting right at goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha in the 29th, and having another shot blocked by defenders 10 minutes later.

Tunisia came to life around the half-hour mark. Then in the 42nd, Wissem Yahya took a headed feed from Issam Jemaa and fired it from the penalty mark, forcing goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong to make a tough save.

Jung had no answer for Dhaouadi two minutes later, as the Tunisian midfielder dribbled in alone from midfield, sped past multiple defenders and struck it past the helpless South Korean custodian.

South Korea opened the second half with more energy. Three minutes into the latter period, striker Park Chu-young sent a low drive from just inside the box but Mustapha dove to his right to meet the challenge.

With Tunisia sitting back and trying to preserve the lead, South Korea failed to mount much of a challenge for the rest of the match.

Moments before the whistle, midfielder Ha Dae-sung nearly drew even for South Korea near the penalty mark, but rolled it just wide of the left post.

Hong, who had said he wanted to test as many players in this match as possible, made the maximum six substitutions in the second half, though the lineup changes had no bearing on the result.

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