| BANGKOK (5 Oct 2008) – A solitary goal off Choi Jung-han in the second half gave Korea Republic a 1-0 win over hosts Thailand in the opening game of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) AFF U19 Championship here at the Rajamangala Stadium.
Junh-han slammed home in the 54th minute to give the Korean the best of start to their campaign as they look to playing against Australia next in a more exuberant mood.
But the match was not exactly played at a high tempo with Korea a little more laid back in the opening half as Thailand took more of the initiative to go forward in front of several hundred fans.
Neither team could make the early breakthrough in the opening quarter of an hour as Korea then strung two passes together for Lee Chang-ho to cause some measure of panic in the Thailand box in the 23rd minute.
Seven minutes later, Han Jea-man had a great chance to put Korea in front but he took too much time to blast the ball in as Thailand then replied with their best chance in the first half with a stiff grounder from Chalermsak Kaewsooktae which narrowly missed the upright.
The pep talk at the break must have done a world of good for Korea as they were more aggressive in the second half and nine minutes after the second whistle, they were in front.
Off a short pass from the centre of the park from Seo Yong-duk, nippy striker Jung-han wasted no time in blasting the ball past Thai keeper Kawin Thamsatchanan.
Korea Republic were a lot more mobile after going in front as they created several more chances only for Han Jea-man and Seo Yong-duk to misplaced their effort.
Thailand upped the tempo in the closing stages of the match but the Korean defence stood firm for the final scoreline.
In the meantime, Australia came back from a goal behind to beat China 3-1 in the second match of the evening.
The Chinese started the game strongly and they duly took the lead off Piao Cheng in the fourth minute when he blasted in a rebounder from Tan Yang.
Rattled, Australia pressed forward and it took them only two minutes to equalized when Milos Lujic beat the off-side trap to put the ball beyond the reach of Chinese custodian Liu Dian Zuo.
Under pressure, China tried to get back into the game but they fell further behind in the 12th minute when Milos headed in a corner from Tahj Minniecon for Australia to take the lead for the first time on the night.
Undeterred, China went in search of the equalizer but they just failed with the last touch as the score remained to the advantage of Australia at the breather.
Both teams continued very much on the same vein in the second half as China attempt to carve out their second goal as Australia on the other hand look to wrap things up.
And while China came close after the break with a header from Li Haozhen, there was no denying Australia the win when Mitchell Nichols headed in a 74th minute cross from Pece Cvetanovski.