Jordan Reaches First Asian Cup Final after Stunning South Korea 2-0
10:40 JST, February 7, 2024
AL-RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Up against one of the pre-tournament favorites, Jordan reached the final of the Asian Cup for the first time after stunning South Korea 2-0 on Tuesday.
Yazan Al Naimat and Mousa Tamari struck in the second half at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium to upset the odds and end coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s hopes of adding another major trophy to his collection.
“I believe the main thing I told my players was not to respect the South Korean team more than you should,” Jordan coach Hussein Ammouta said afterward. “I think this gave my players that confidence.
“We had nothing to lose.”
Jordan will play Iran or defending champion Qatar in the final this weekend. Their semifinal is on Wednesday.
South Korea, meanwhile, is left rue a missed opportunity as its wait for a third Asian Cup title goes on.
“The coach is always responsible for how a tournament goes for a team. The goal was to get to the final. We didn’t get to the final,” said Klinsmann, South Korea’s coach who as a player helped West Germany win the World Cup in 1990. “We couldn’t use our chances. We congratulate Jordan. They deserve to be in the final.”
Al Naimat fired Jordan ahead in the 53rd minute by flicking a shot beyond goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo, who had already pulled off a series of saves to keep the score level.
Tamari made it 2-0 in the 66th with a long-range effort that sent fans in the stadium wild and extend his team’s unlikely run in the competition.
Jordan had only advanced to the round of 16 as one of the best third-place teams in the group stage and had finished below South Korea in Group E.
But under Moroccan coach Ammouta, it keeps coming up with the right answers and dominated the semifinal.
Klinsmann admitted Jordan “won almost every one-on-one battle in the first half hour.”
South Korea needed a stoppage time own goal to secure a draw with Jordan in the group stage and mounted late comebacks in the round of 16 and quarterfinals against Saudi Arabia and Australia, respectively. But a repeat never looked likely on this occasion.
While the two-time champion was aiming to win its first Asian Cup since 1960, Jordan was playing in the semifinal for the first time.
There was little sign of the players being overwhelmed by the occasion.
“They were the weapons and they delivered an heroic performance,” Ammouta said.
It was South Korea’s players who looked inhibited as Jordan applied the pressure.
Noor Al Rawabdeh and Al Naimat both forced saves from Jo in the early stages and Tamari fired narrowly wide with another effort.
South Korea struggled to create openings but came close to going ahead just after the half-hour mark. Lee Jae-sung stooped to meet Hwang In-beom’s cross from the right, but his header came back off the foot of the post.
Jordan then had its best chance of the half shortly before the break when Al Naimat twisted and turned his way through the area and stabbed a shot at goal from five meters (yards) out. He was only denied by the face of Jo, who appeared to know little about his save.
With the keeper dazed and trying to collect himself, he then repelled the rebound from Al Rawabdeh with his heals while facing the wrong direction.
Jordan emerged after halftime with renewed threat and took the lead eight minutes after the restart.
A loose pass from Park Yong-woo was seized upon by Tamari and he fed Al Naimat.
The forward wasn’t to be denied on this occasion and he flicked a shot over the advancing Jo to spark wild celebrations within the crowd of 42,850.
The cheers were even louder when Jordan doubled the lead 13 minutes later through a brilliant solo goal from Tamari.
Running from deep in South Korea’s half, he carried the ball to the edge of the box before curling a low shot into the bottom corner.
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