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S. Korea taking new-look defense to final group match vs. Malaysia

Jan. 25, 2024 - 20:03 By Yonhap
South Korean players train for their Group E match against Malaysia at the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup at Al Egla Training Site in Doha on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

South Korea will have a new-look backline against Malaysia in their final group match of the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup in Qatar on Thursday.

Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann made two changes to his defense compared to the first two matches of the group stage. Seol Young-woo, who started as the right back in the first two games, will take over on the left side for the injured Lee Ki-je. Kim Tae-hwan, subbed in as the right back in earlier matches, will get the start on the right side Thursday.

Center back Kim Min-jae will have a new partner in Kim Young-gwon, who replaces Jung Seung-hyun.

There is another change in midfield, with Hwang In-beom partnering with Jeong Woo-yeong instead of Park Yong-woo.

The attacking core remains the same, with captain Son Heung-min, Lee Kang-in and Lee Jae-sung lining up behind striker Cho Gue-sung.

The match kicks off at 2:30 p.m. local time at Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, south of Doha, or 8:30 p.m. in Seoul.

South Korea have already secured a spot in the knockout stage, after earning four points from a 3-1 win over Bahrain and a 2-2 draw with Jordan.

The round of 16 will feature the two best teams from each of the six groups, along with the four best third-place teams. At stake for South Korea in Thursday's match is their position in the group.

Entering Thursday's play, Jordan led Group E with four points. South Korea have the same number of points but trail Jordan on goal difference, +4 to +2. Bahrain sit in third place with three points, while Malaysia, having lost their first two matches, have been eliminated.

If South Korea win Group E, they will face Japan, the Group D runner-up, in the round of 16 on Wednesday. If South Korea finish runner-up, they will meet the Group F winner to begin the knockout stage, either Saudi Arabia or Thailand, on Tuesday.

If South Korea finish third in the group -- possible if South Korea and Jordan both lose -- then they will play either Iraq or Qatar in the round of 16 on Monday. (Yonhap)