Korea Republic edged past Saudi Arabia 1-0 thanks to a penalty today in the final round of the Asian football qualification for the 2012 London Olympics. Watched by some 27,000 fans at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, midfielder Cho Young-Cheol converted the penalty in the 33rd minute to keep the home team top of Group A, with seven points from two wins and a draw.
As the home team prepared for a free kick from the left wing, Saudi defender Ahmed Walibi got entangled with a South Korean player in the box, conceding the penalty. Cho put the ball past keeper Hussain Shaian and into the low right-hand corner of the net, Yonhap news agency reported.
Cho was one of four players from Japan's J.League who joined the Olympic squad as of Friday. Their respective Japanese teams had refused to release them for the game against Qatar last Wednesday, Yonhap said. Korea Republic dominated play in the first half and Cho had a headed goal disallowed in the 25th minute when he was caught offside.
Cho almost doubled the score in the 41st minute but was thwarted by a fine diving save from Shaian. The keeper also blocked a rolling shot from substitute Yun Suk-Young in the 75th minute. The visitors had few chances to score and only tested South Korean keeper Lee Bum-Young in the 66th minute, when he managed to punch away a shot from substitute Abdulrahim Jezawi.
Korea Republic's next match is away to Saudi Arabia on 5 February next year, followed by a visit to Oman on February. The final qualifier is at home to Qatar on 14 March. Korea Republic is chasing its seventh straight Olympic appearance and ninth overall but has never won a football medal at the Olympics.