South Korea vs Malaysia

Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium sets the stage for a lopsided Asian Cup Group E showdown between South Korea and Malaysia.

South Korea’s pursuit of Asian Cup glory for the first time since 1960 was off to a flying start, with the ‘Taegeuk Warriors’ thumping minnows Bahrain in their curtain-raising E fixture. Despite heading into their round-two clash against Jordan as clear-cut favorites to seal a top-place finish with a game to spare, Jurgen Klinsmann’s side spurned an early lead in a goal-glutted 2-2 draw and now must outscore them to ascend to the top. It shouldn’t be a tall order, though, considering they’ve been firing on all cylinders, netting 3+ goals in five of their last seven outings. Moreover, they’ve won their three most recent encounters against Malaysia via 2+ goals ‘to nil,’ though it’s worth noting their last meeting dates back to 1989.

In contrast to South Korea’s vivid Asian Cup campaign, Malaysia’s hopes of making it out of the group stages for the first time in the nation’s history are practically dead in the water after losing their opening two Group E matches without scoring. Even an unlikely triumph in this showdown can’t salvage their catastrophic continental journey. In order to stand a chance against a more heavily fancied South Korea, the ‘Malayan Tiger’ must avoid lapses of concentration in the later stages that have seen them concede beyond the 80th minute in both group fixtures. Falling behind would likely prove detrimental to their bid to upset the apple cart, with Kim Pan-gon’s side losing their last four internationals after conceding first without a reply.

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