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(LEAD) S. Korea beat Jordan to move within one win of Olympic men's football berth

All News 02:01 January 24, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS comments in last 3 paras)

DOHA, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea defeated Jordan 1-0 on Saturday to move within one win of a spot in the Olympic men's football tournament.

Midfielder Moon Chang-jin's 23rd-minute score stood as the winner at Suhaim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha in the quarterfinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship.

The victory sent South Korea to the semifinals of the competition, which is also the Asian qualifying tournament for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Only the top three nations here will get to compete in Brazil in August.

In the semifinals, South Korea will take on host Qatar, which earlier knocked out North Korea, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, or 1:30 a.m. Wednesday in South Korean time.

South Korea will clinch an Olympic berth with a victory over Qatar. Even if South Korea lose to Qatar, they can still qualify for the Olympics by winning the third-place match on Friday.

Jordan, which had back-to-back scoreless draws to close out their group play, played the typical, swarming defense from early on, but South Korea still managed to find enough to space to generate chances.

Kwon Chang-hoon, who scored a hat trick against Yemen in group play, bounced a header out of play after a sharp Lee Seul-chan cross in the seventh minute. Kwon had another good look at the net in the 16th, but fired one right at goalkeeper Noureddin Ateyah.

Two minutes later, Moon Chang-jin set up Ryu Seung-woo for an open look but the midfielder fired it wide.

There was an adventurous moment on the other end in the 20th minute. South Korean goalkeeper Gu Sung-yun, making his first start in goal in place of ailing Kim Dong-jun, was caught outside the box after a botched clearing attempt, but Baha' Faisal couldn't put one into the gaping net as his shot sailed wide.

Moon Chang-jin finally put South Korean on board in the 23rd, taking advantage of some shoddy defense.

Two defenders, Amer Abu-Hudaib and Omar Al-Manasrah, failed to clear out a Kwon Chang-hoon cross, and the ball found Ryu Seung-woo on the right wing. Ryu then fed Moon for an open chance, and the attacking midfielder netted his third goal of the tournament.

Forward Hwang Hee-chan threatened to double the lead for South Korea. He was denied in the point-blank range by Ateyah in the 28th, and saw his header kept out by the Jordan keeper in the 33rd.

Jordan nearly equalized three minutes later, when Ehsan Haddad, taking a feed from Faisal, hit the left side of the net from just inside the box.

In the second half, it was South Korea's turn to get sloppy in their own end, and Jordan were clearly the dominant side as they started putting more pressure on defense.

Just past the hour mark, Ahmad Hisham, left unmarked on the left side of the box, badly missed the target. Mahmoud Al-Mardi set up Haddad for a shot that traveled wide left.

South Korea caught a break in the 67th, when Faisal's header was called back on a borderline offside call.

South Korea's lone second-half opportunity didn't come until the 80th minute, with Kwon Chang-hoon going off target from the top of the arc.

Jordan kept knocking on the door but it never opened, as they ran out of time and South Korea booked a date with Qatar next week.

South Korea head coach Shin Tae-yong said the narrow victory should serve as a good learning experience for his team.

"I figured we'd hit a speed bump along the way, and I hope we got one out of the way today," he said. "We had a good first half but I think our players lost their focus when the opponents came out attacking. I think we should be able to play better against Qatar."

The victory came at a cost for South Korea, as forward Hwang Hee-chan, who has been one of the team's best playmakers, was forced to leave the game in the second half with an ankle injury. Shin said Hwang was icing the foot and he wasn't sure yet whether the 19-year-old would be ready for the semifinals.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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