Dubai: South Korea missed a golden chance to finish their Asian Cup preparations on a high as they were held to a goalless draw by Saudi Arabia in Abu Dhabi.
Ki Sung-yueng had the opportunity to seal victory from the spot with only eight minutes remaining following a foul in the area by Saudi’s Mohammad Al Owais. However, the Japanese — who plays in midfield for English Premier League side Newcastle United — watched his effort fail to hit the target and the game petered out with the honours even.
The Saudis kick-off their Asian Cup campaign on January 8 against North Korea in Group E, while the South take on the Philippines in Group C a day earlier.
Korea’s task in the group stage has been made more difficult due to the absence of captain Son Heung-min, who will sit out the first two games under an agreement with his club side Tottenham Hotspur.
Spurs had agreed to release Son for this year’s Asian Games football tournament under the condition that he sit out November friendlies and the early part of the Asian Cup.
However, the Koreans should still have enough firepower to see them through to the knockout stage, with Gamba Osaka striker Hwang Ui-jo enjoying a rich vein of scoring form and Ki impressing at the heart of the Newcastle midfield in recent weeks.
If Son can carry his goalscoring form in the Premier League over to the Asian Cup when he eventually links up with the squad ahead of their final group game against China, the Koreans’ near 60-year wait for another title might soon be over.
The Philippines went down to a 4-2 defeat against Vietnam in Qatar. Vietnam, in Group D, begin their tournament on January 8 against Iraq in Abu Dhabi.