DOHA - South Korea produced another silky
performance while Australia relied on their experience as the
pair edged towards a possible Asian Cup final showdown by
reaching the quarter-finals on Tuesday.
South Korea swept past already-eliminated India 4-1 to set
up a last eight meeting with three-times champions Iran, meaning
a fifth consecutive Asian Cup quarter-final between the teams.
"Iran is one of the powerhouses of Asian football and, in
order to win the tournament, we have to beat them. That's it,"
Korean coach Cho Kwang-rae told reporters.
The Koreans, however, may regret the number of chances they
missed at a rain-soaked Al Gharafa Stadium as one more goal
would have meant they topped Group C and set up a meeting with
either holders Iraq, United Arab Emirates or North Korea who
have all looked far less dangerous than Iran.
However, Australia will meet whichever of the three finishes
as Group D runners-up after they edged a dogged Bahrain 1-0 at a
wet and windy Al Sadd Stadium to top the group on goal
Bahrain finished third with three points and India, playing
in their first Asian Cup since 1984, bottom with none.
The Socceroos were not at their best but defended well and
managed the difficult conditions better to restrict their
opponents, who needed to win to advance, to long range efforts.
"It was a tough game and Bahrain... gave us a hard time. We
won tough. We topped the group which is positive for the morale
for the next coming games," Australia coach Holder Osieck told
Australia took the lead in the 37th minute after an even
opening when midfielder Mile Jedinak collected a clearance and
smashed a low, bouncing right-foot shot from 25 metres past
Mahmood Mansoor in the Bahrain goal.
It was the second goal of the tournament for Jedinak, which
came shortly after Bahrain striker Ismaeel Abdulatiff, who
scored four in a 5-2 win over India last time out, hit the
outside of the post from an acute angle.
South Korea, seeking their first Asian title since 1960,
impressed in their opening two matches in Doha and were expected
to easily beat India, the lowest ranked in the 16-team
Ji Dong-won put the Koreans ahead after just six minutes and
Koo Ja-cheol doubled the advantage three minutes later with his
fourth goal of the tournament when he rounded the keeper to
score from close range.
Indian striker Sunil Chhetri replied with a 12th minute
penalty but the Koreans struck right back with Ji's second of
the game in the 23rd minute.
Korea dominated the second half and could have scored at
least three more, but had to settle for four with 18-year-old
substitute Son Heung-min smashing home a left-foot shot nine
minutes from the end after a superb through ball from Ja-cheol.
"We failed to convert a lot of chances, but I am pleased
with the attitude of the players. They took the game very
seriously," Cho said of his team who had 38 attempts at the
Indian striker Bhaichung Bhatia, the country's most famous
player, came on for the last 12 minutes after nursing a
year-long calf injury to record probably his last appearance for
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