Tokyo OIympic quarterfinalist South Korea blanked a nifty Philippine juniors team, 3-0, in the opening game of Group H of the 2022 AFC Men’s Under-23 Asian Cup Qualifiers Monday at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.
The duo of defender Lee Kyu-Hyuk and midfielder Ko Jae-Hyeon were keys to unlocking the junior Azkals’ iron defense.
After a goalless first half, Ko issued a cross from the left wing to Lee, who punctured a header past goalkeeper Quincy Kammeraad at the 51st minute.
It was a reversal of roles twenty minutes later as this time, Lee issued the assist to Ko for a wide-open strike, using the same play in South Korea’s first goal.
At the 81st minute, the junior Azkals’ only serious attempt at goal was subdued as Korean goalkeeper Lee Gwang-yeon captured a counterattacking run by forward Jens Rasmussen .
Park Jeong-in capped South Korea’s trifecta of goals, again coming from a left-wing cross from Seo Jin-su at the 89th minute.
With the loss, the Philippines need to win against upcoming opponents Singapore and Timor-Leste.
The Philippine-Singapore game is on Thursday, 8 PM (Manila time).
Earlier this year, the South Korean men’s under-23 team made it to the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympics but lost to powerhouse Mexico, 3- 6. The Koreans defeated Honduras (6- 0) and Romania (4-0) in the group stages of the Olympiad in dominating fashion.
This is the under-23 Azkals’ first international tournament since 2019. In the previous AFC qualifiers, they suffered a 0-8 loss to China and finished the tournament winless, scoring only two goals and conceding 14.