PETALING JAYA: South Korea as good as booked their place in a fifth consecutive Olympics after they made short work of Malaysia in a pre-Olympics Asian Finals Group A football match, winning 3-0 easily at the Suwon World Cup Stadium in Seoul last night.
Kim Dong-hyun fired a brace – in the third and 86th minutes – while substitute Chun Jae-woon scored in the 69th minute to put the Koreans in the driver's seat for Athens.
It was the Koreans fourth straight win and, with 12 points, they are now set to qualify for the Olympics as the group winners.
In the first round of matches, they had scored identical 1-0 wins over Malaysia, Iran and China.
Malaysia, who had only one point to show in the first round after holding China to a 1-1 draw in Wuhan, were simply outclassed by the technically superior Koreans yesterday. The hosts forced more than 20 corners and had at least 30 attempts at goal in the one-sided game.
The visitors had goalkeeper Syamsuri Mustaffa to thank for the respectable score. He put up a courageous performance and had his hands full, time and again foiling the Korean raids.
However, it took the Koreans only three minutes to break through the unsettled Malaysian defence marshalled by Norhafiz Zamani Misbah. Norhafiz failed to shield the ball inside the box and the on-rushing Choi Tae-uk set up Dong-hyun to score from close range.
Despite back-pedalling and chasing the Koreans' shadow throughout the half, the Malaysians managed to get the ball in the Korean net in the 36th minute off a scramble. But R. Surendran's attempt was ruled offside.
Striker Akmal Rizal Rakhli, who was totally without any support, had Malaysia's best chance at the stroke of half time. He squeezed past two defenders but his left footed strike from close range missed the target.
Jae-woon had been on the pitch barely 20 seconds when he punished the Malaysian defence, scoring with his first touch in the 69th minute.
Jae-woon was put through with no defenders on his tail. Syamsuri came off his line only to see the Korean beating him to the ball and coolly slotting the ball into an empty net.
Then, with four minutes left on the clock Dong-hyun jumped unchallenged to send in glancing header past Syamsuri.
The Koreans played without two of their foreign-based players – Park Ji-sung of PSV Eindhoven and Lee Chun-soo of Real Sociedad.
Malaysia have two more matches to play. They face Iran away on April 30 and China at home on May 12.
GROUP A STANDINGS
P W D L F A PtsS.KOREA 4 4 0 0 6 0 12
CHINA 3 1 1 1 4 3 4
IRAN 3 1 0 2 5 5 3
MALAYSIA 4 0 1 3 2 8 1