Piala Asia 2023: Puji Malaysia, Pelatih Korsel Bantah Sengaja Mengalah untuk Hindari Jepang

Teguh Kurniawan

Editor: Teguh Kurniawan

Piala Asia 2023 di Qatar.
Piala Asia 2023. (Deni Sulaeman/Skor.id)

SKOR.id - Pelatih Timnas Korea Selatan, Jurgen Klinsmann, membantah pasukannya menghindari bertemu Jepang di babak 16 besar Piala Asia 2023.

Tudingan itu muncul setelah Korea Selatan secara mengejutkan ditahan imbang Malaysia 3-3 pada laga pamungkas Grup E di Stadion Al Janoub, Kamis (25/1/2024).

Cuma menambah satu poin, tim asuhan Jurgen Klinsmann finis sebagai runner-up, di belakang Bahrain, yang tak disangka keluar sebagai juara grup usai mengandaskan Yordania 1-0 di saat bersamaan.

Dengan demikian, Korea Selatan terhindar dari pertemuan dini dengan rival bebuyutan mereka, Jepang, yang berstatus runner-up Grup D.

Pada babak 16 besar nanti, The Taeguk Warriors akan menantang penguasa Grup F, Arab Saudi, sementara Jepang berhadapan dengan Bahrain. 

Adapun Yordania, sebagai salah satu peringkat ketiga terbaik, duel lawan jawara Grup D, Irak.

Banyak yang menuding bahwa ini merupakan skenario yang diinginkan oleh Korea Selatan. Mereka sengaja tak menampilkan performa terbaik lawan Malaysia agar posisi puncak tetap di tangan Yordania atau diambil alih Bahrain.

Sebelum laga pamungkas Grup E bergulir, memang sudah diketahui bahwa sang juara grup akan bertemu Jepang di babak 16 besar.

"Kami tidak menghindari bertemu Jepang. Tak ada dalam rencana kami untuk kebobolan tiga gol hari ini. Kami ingin menjadi juara grup, itu targetnya," kata Jurgen Klinsmann usai laga, membantah semua tudingan.

Justru, lanjut legenda sepak bola Jerman itu, permainan Malaysia yang patut dipuji. Arif Aiman Hanapi dan kawan-kawan pantang menyerah, dan akhirnya mampu mencuri poin.

Pada babak pertama, Malaysia memang terdesak. Mereka diserang bertubi-tubi hingga kebobolan oleh tandukan Jeong Woo-yeong di menit ke-21.

Namun, usai turun minum, tim asuhan Kim Pan-gon itu menampilkan wajah berbeda. Mereka balik menekan Korea Selatan lewat counter attack mematikan.

Hasilnya, dua gol tercipta. Pertama lewat aksi ciamik Faisal Halim (51'), kemudian dari penalti Arif Aiman Hanapi (62').

Meski sempat tertinggal lagi oleh tendangan bebas Lee Kang-in (83') dan penalti Son Heung-min (90+4'), Harimau Malaya menolak lempar handuk.

Dan, di detik-detik akhir laga, tepatnya menit ke-90+15, pemain pengganti Romel Morales sukses melesakkan gol penyeimbang buat Malaysia.

"Saya akui Malaysia main dengan sepenuh hati dan Anda harus memberikan mereka kredit," ujar Klinsmann. 

"Namun, (sekali lagi) kami seharusnya memenangi laga ini," dia memungkasi.

Korea Selatan kini menatap duel 16 besar versus Arab Saudi di Stadion Education City, Al Rayyan, pada Selasa (30/1/2024) mendatang, sementara Malaysia pulang dari Piala Asia 2023 dengan kepala tegak usai menampilkan salah satu performa terbaik di turnamen.

Source: Berita Harian

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