SEOUL– Captain Son Heung-min scored in his second straight match, helping South Korea past Cameroon 1-0 in their latest World Cup tuneup match at home on Tuesday.
Son headed in a rebound following Kim Jin-su’s initial shot in the 35th minute, and the Taegeuk Warriors made the lead stand before 59,389 fans at Seoul World Cup Stadium.
Son had scored a late free kick to salvage a 2-2 draw against Costa Rica last Friday.
South Korea dodged a bullet in the 43rd minute, when Bryan Mbeumo’s shot hit the back of defender Kwon Kyung-won and then struck the crossbar.
This was the final match for South Korea at full strength before the Nov. 20-Dec. 18 World Cup in Qatar. South Korea will likely play a sendoff match at home in November before departing for Qatar, but that game will not feature Europe-based stars.
South Korea had played Costa Rica to a 2-2 draw last Friday. Head coach Paulo Bento inserted five new faces into the starting lineup for Tuesday’s match, continuing his search for the optimal combination for the World Cup.
South Korea were in full control from the get-go, with Lee Jae-sung threatening the Cameroon net with a diving header in the fifth minute and a right-footed shot in the next minute.
Cameroon had their first look at the net in the 26th minute, with Moumi Ngamaleu launching a right-footed shot over the net after a clearing attempt landed at his feet outside the box.
South Korea had an aggressive setup. When in possession of the ball, midfielder Son Jun-ho dropped back to defense, flanked by two center backs, Kim Min-jae and Kwon Kyung-won, as he tried to find seams to start the offensive buildup. Fullbacks on either side, Kim Jin-su and Kim Moon-hwan, took positions deep inside the attacking zone.
South Korea attempted short and quick diagonal passes while looking to find holes through Cameroon’s low block. But the few shots that South Korea did take were either blocked by defenders or went off target, including Hwang In-beom’s left-footed shot near the half-hour mark.
Son finally delivered the icebreaker. Lee Jae-sung sprung Kim Jin-su free into the box, and the left back unleashed a hard shot right at goalkeeper Andre Onana. The save floated right to Son standing in the goalmouth, and the Johnny-on-the-spot made no mistake in scoring his 35th international goal.
After surviving Mbeumo’s near goal late in the first half, South Korea pressed for their second goal early in the second half, though Jeong Woo-yeong’s header floated over the net in the 47th.
Cameroon increased their attacking pressure as the match wore on, in their search for the equalizer that never came.
Olivier Ntcham sent his left-footed shot wide right of the target in the 51st, while Martin Hongla couldn’t quite beat goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu with his right-footed attempt from inside the box in the 70th.
Son took one last shot at his second goal of the night with his 87th-minute free kick, which landed on the top of the net.
South Korea’s win came at a cost, as forward Hwang Ui-jo, who came off the bench in the 72nd minute, was subbed out nine minutes later with an injury.
Source: Yonhap News Agency