Improving Oly Whites fall short
Sun, 15 Jul 2012 10:26a.m.
Coach Neil Emblen says New Zealand's under-23 Olympic team has shown real signs of progress despite losing 2-1 to South Korea in Seoul on Saturday.
The Oly Whites fell behind to a skilful back heel finish from Ji Dong-Won in the 18th minute but over-age striker Shane Smeltz restored parity with a clinical finish from Adam Thomas' cross.
A second draw in four days - the Oly Whites drew 1-1 with Japan in Tokyo on Wednesday night - looked on the cards until the 83rd minute.
Park Jong Woo drifted through the flat New Zealand defence, took a long pass on his chest, turned his man and slotted the ball past goalkeeper Michael O'Keeffe, who impressed after replacing Jake Gleeson early in the second half.
The introduction of Chris Wood into the line up proved a handful for the Korean defence, allowing Smeltz to fill a deeper role flanked by Kosta Barbarouses and Marco Rojas, with Michael McGlinchey also dropping deeper in midfield.
Emblen says the Oly Whites have improved noticeably since their last game in Tokyo.
"South Korea had their share of chances and could've punished us, but we asked the players to be braver on the ball and we created more chances tonight.
"Korea were causing us trouble out wide but we addressed that at halftime and went toe-to-toe with them for a long period in the second half."
He was hopeful Gleeson's groin injury, which forced him from the field as the hour mark approached, wouldn't prove a long-term problem.
The team play the United Arab Emirates in Austria on Friday in their final warm-up match before opening their Olympic campaign against Belarus in Coventry on July 26. They also face Egypt and Brazil in Group C.
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15/07/2012 5:09:33 p.m.
The goal scorers from South Korea side were Chu-young Park(18rd minute) and Tae-hee Nam(79th minute) not Ji Dong-Won and Park Jong Woo.
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