KUALA LUMPUR: Asian Under-20 champions South Korea were made to slog for a 2-0 win over an inexperienced Malaysia in the playoff for third place of the International Youth Tournament at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil here yesterday.
Jung Jo-gook saved the blushes for the Koreans, scoring both the goals with headers in the 77th and 89th minutes.
It was a disappointing display from the Koreans, considering the commitment and aggression they displayed when they played against Portugal last Thursday.
A bizarre corner kick taken in the 40th minute told the story of the Koreans, who were really off their mark.
The 5,000 fans saw clumsy performances for most the game, stray passes and the corner kick, which was struck towards the back of the goal and towards the spectators.
Coach Park Sung-hwa admitted they had a difficult match because several of their players were carrying injuries after the gruelling match against Portugal.
It was not an easy match for us with several regulars on the bench. The Malaysian boys played well, said Sung-hwa.
The Malaysian Under-21 team, who had barely a month of preparation for the four-team tournament, performed much better compared to the match against Brazil, which they lost 0-3 on last Thursday.
Coach K. Rajagopal said that he could not have asked for more from his boys, who were up against a team who were physically stronger and much more matured in their game.
The South Koreans were serious and the coach made many changes to break our defence. Technically, we did match them but towards the end, weary legs cost us the goals, said Rajagopal.
Goalkeeper Mohamed Helmi Eliza Elias did well to save Kim Chi-woo's low drive in the 29th minute.
In fact, the Malaysian defence, marshalled by Yosri Derma Raju and Mat Saiful Mohamed, did well to shackle Korean forwards Jo-gook and Kim Young-chul with tight markings.
Jo-gook had the ball in the net in the 43rd minute but referee Tongkhan Satop of Thailand disallowed it for offside.
But Jo-gook hit the target after he rose high to nod the ball in from close range off a Young-chul cross in the 77th minute.
With a minute left on the clock, Jo-gook took advantage of a tired Malaysian defence to plant a second goal in similar fashion.
The closest Malaysia came to scoring was in the 79th minute when Tengku Elias Tengku Ibrahims free kick hit the woodwork.
Malaysia: Mohamed Helmi Eliza Elias, Mohamed Fadzli Shaari (Safee Sali), Rudie Ramli (Nik Zulaziz Nawawi), Mat Saiful Mohamed (Sathia Kumaran), Noor Zaidi Rohmat (Firdaus Mokhtar), Linggam Krishnan, R. Surendran, Norhisham Hassan, Tengku Elias Tengku Ibrahim, Yosri Derma Raju, M. Ravinthiran.
South Korea: Kim Young-kwang, Oh Beom-seok, Kim Chi-woo (YeoHyo-jin), Kim Chi-gon, Park Ju-sung, Kim Jin-kyu, Lee Jong-min, Jung Ju-gook, Lee Gil-hoon (Han Jae-woong), Choo Sung-yoon (Kim Young-chul), Kim Dong-hwan (Baek Ji-hoon).