By Malak Jaaphar – Lebanon shocks South Korea; Wins 2-1

by mkleit

Abbass Atwi Scoring Lebanon's 2nd Goal in Korean Nets

Article written by fellow journalist and colleague Malak Jaaphar… She made us proud 🙂

Published Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lebanon’s national football team beat its South Korean counterpart on Tuesday in a FIFA 2014 World Cup qualification match with a final score of 2 – 1. The win has allowed Lebanon to reach the final qualifying round for the World Cup.

The match was played at the Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium in Beirut with a capacity of 47,799 spectators. More than 50,000 fans filled the stadium and despite the overwhelming attendance of Lebanese supporters, there was still a number of South Korean fans.

Lebanese President Michel Sleiman also attended the game.

The team impressed spectators with defender Ali Saade scoring in the fifth minute of the game. South Korea soon equalized with a penalty in the 21st minute.

But a penalty scored by Abbas Atwe 13 minutes before half time placed Lebanon back in the lead. The goal was followed by an impressive defensive game, preventing South Korea from making a comeback.

Each of the two teams now have 10 points from the five matches they’ve played in Group B in the third round of the Asian World Cup qualifiers. Only 10 places are available in the fourth round and both sides will qualify.

The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait are the two other Group B teams.The former failed to qualify while the latter’s probability of making it to the next round is slim.

Much credit for the team’s excellent recent performances is given to their coach, Theo Bucker.

One Lebanese fan said the coach had helped the Lebanese national team a lot. “The team, after suffering arguably humiliating losses only two months ago, learned to be resilient; there is no doubt that the team’s confidence is high,” said Issam Kayssi, adding, “Bucker and his staff played a big role in instilling this belief in the players.”

Kayssi thought Bucker found the best formula to set up the team and get the best out of each player he has, “especially returning captain Roda Antar. He has set up his team exceptionally well in defense.”

In a press conference following the game, South Korea’s coach Cho Kwang-Rae blamed playing conditions for his team’s loss. He said that had the pitch been in better shape, his players would have performed well.

The South Korean team has not lost a game in two years and recently defeated Lebanon in a game at Goyang Stadium, thrashing them 6 – 0.

Lebanon’s scoring striker, Abbas Atwe, said in an interview after the game that he had never been so proud of his team’s performance.

“We never had the professional training other countries’ teams had. We never even had a decent budget set aside for our team. But we are here now. We have reached this far because of our diligence, our persistence and our talent. We started from nowhere, and have come this far. We are so proud,” Atwe said.

“We proved to all the Arab and Asian football teams that we are a team they should be watching out for. We are worthy opponents,” he added.

President Sleiman, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri all congratulated the team on the social media website, Twitter.

Youth and sports minister, Faysal Karame, also congratulated the team.

“I am very proud of this fine football team. I would have loved to be with the fans, wearing the football jersey, cheering on the players but unfortunately I couldn’t make it. The fact that President Sleiman was there really helped the players’ psyche and inspired them to play better,” Karame said.

Karame also used the opportunity to suggest perhaps “now we would be able to push to get more assistance and funding for the sports sector in all of Lebanon.”

http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/lebanon-shocks-south-korea-wins-2-1

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