Korea Republic, led by coach Paulo Bento (52), drew 1-1 against Iran in the Asian final group A match of the 2022 Qatar World Cup held at Azadi Stadium in Tehran, Iran on the 12th (Korean time).
Korea took the lead with a goal from Son Heung-min (29, Tottenham Hotspur) in the 3rd minute of the second half of the day, but Alizeza Jahanbachsi (28, Feyenoord) equalized in the 30th minute of the second half. The first ever victory in Iran was unfortunately postponed until later.
But without Kim Min-jae, even a draw could not be guaranteed. Kim Min-jae worked with Kim Young-kwon (31, Gamba Osaka) as central defense and overwhelmed the Iranian strikers throughout the game.
Korea faced a risk of conceding a goal due to Kim Young-kwon’s pass miss in the 37th minute of the first half, but Kim Min-jae calmly blocked the opponent’s counterattack and was able to overcome the hurdle.
Iran’s proud European strikers Sardar Azmun (26, Zenit Saint-Petersburg), Mehdi Taremi (29, Porto), and Jahanbachsi were blocked by Kim Min-jae’s physical and speed, so they did not get much chance to score. In the case of Azmoon, he bowed his head every time he competed with Kim Min-jae.
Azmoon provoked by pulling Kim Min-jae’s uniform after being pushed back in a physical fight at the end of the second half, but Kim Min-jae did not pass. He showed the leisure to laugh at Azmun’s actions.
Kim Min-jae did his part in the attack development process. After breaking Iran’s pass, he contributed to a smooth build-up by quickly judging the situation. It was disappointing to have conceded goals in two consecutive games following the 2-1 victory over Syria on the 7th, but the play that Kim Min-jae showed was perfect.
With Kim Min-jae’s performance, Korea won a valuable point in the away trip to Iran, which was the biggest turning point in this final qualifying round. They recorded 2 wins and 2 draws in the final qualifying round, and with 8 points, they were placed second in Group A after Iran (10 points), laying the foundation for qualifying for the 10th consecutive World Cup finals.
[김지수 MK스포츠 기자]
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[ⓒ MK스포츠, 무단전재 및 재배포 금지]