South Korea became the first team to qualify for the Asian Cup quarterfinals after defeating Kuwait 1-0 thanks to a first half goal from Nam Tae-hee.
The Taeguk Warriors came into the Canberra Stadium encounter shorthanded, with several players left off Uli Stielike’s game-day roster due to injury. Earlier in the day it was revealed that Lee Chung-yong will miss the rest of the tournament after sustaining a shin fracture in Saturday’s win over Oman.
Things got worse when goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon, Leverkusen star Son Heung-min, and midfielder Koo Ja-cheol were scratched due to illness.
Nam’s header in the 36th minute came into fruition thanks to Cha Du-ri’s tremendous cross, which set up what would be the only goal of the match.
Despite the majority of the 8,795-strong crowd backing them in the Australian capital, South Korea found themselves vulnerable on multiple occasions to the Kuwaiti attack. The West Asian side had several chances to fight back late in the game, but were unable to find the equalizer.
The loss was the seventh straight in Asian Cup play for Kuwait, who are also the first to be eliminated from the tournament.
South Korea will look to capture first place in the group when they play hosts Australia in Brisbane on January 17.