South Korea drew 0-0 with Iraq in the opening match of the final round of Asians qualifying for the Qatar Football World Cup. With Thursday’s draw at home in Seoul, South Korea and Iraq now have one point each, bringing South Korea’s record against the Middle Eastern nation to seven wins, two losses, and 12 draws.
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Despite leading Iraq with 68 percent possession, South Korea failed to score a goal. Out of 15 attempts on goal, compared to Iraq’s two, South Korea managed only five shots on goal. Captain Son Heung-min had a hard time against the opposing defense, as the Iraqis tried to surround him with two to three players every time they had possession of the ball.
South Korea will now face Lebanon in their second match next week in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province. South Korea is seeking its 10th consecutive Football World Cup appearance and has been placed in a group with Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates, against each of which it will play one home and one away matches between now and March next year.
South Korea faces a difficult road ahead as it must play all of its away matches in the Middle East, which is a challenge for its players due to the long travel and hot weather. The other group in the finals includes Australia, China, Japan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam. The top two players in each group will participate in the World Cup.
Iraq has not qualified for the quadrennial soccer tournament since the 1986 Football World Cup in Mexico, where it was eliminated in the group stage. The country has been training hard since July for the final qualifier as it sought a new coach, Dick Awkat, who led South Korea at the 2006 Football World Cup in Germany.
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