Korea should be careful of referees.
The South Korean national soccer team, led by head coach Jürgen Klinsmann, will play Australia in the quarterfinals of the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Qatar Asian Cup at Al-Zanub Stadium in Al-Wakra, Qatar, at 0:30 a.m. on the 3rd (Korea time).
Ahead of the match, AFC revealed the judges of the match between Korea and Australia. The referee was Ahmed al-Qaf. He has been serving as an international referee for FIFA since 2010. Al-Qaf does not issue warnings often, but he was also criticized for controversy over false trials.
It also has a bad relationship with Korea. In October 2021, he served as the referee in a match against Iran in the final Asian qualifying round for the 2022 Qatar World Cup. Korea led the match with Son Heung-min’s first goal, but the match went back to square one after allowing Alireza Jahanbakhsh to score an equalizer.
At the end of the match, Korea had its last chance. Na Sang-ho shot it in the extra time of the second half, but the goalkeeper blocked it. However, the referee did not declare a corner kick and ended the match as it was. At that time, the extra time in the second half was given three minutes, and the corner kick came out before the extra time expired. It was regrettable for Korea. Son Heung-min protested to the referee Al-Qaf, but it was a warning that he returned.
South Korea should be careful of warnings in this game. Currently, many players are in yellow trouble. South Korea received as many as five warnings in the first game alone. Son Heung-min, Kim Min-jae, Cho Kyu-sung, Park Yong-woo and Lee Ki-je were warned. Hwang In-beom was added in the second game and Lee Jae-sung in the third game. As many as 10 people were in yellow trouble with warnings from Lee Kang-in and Kim Young-kwon in the round of 16.
All a player has to do is hold out to the quarterfinals without warning. According to Article 12, Paragraph 3 of AFC Regulation, if a player receives one yellow card in two different matches, he or she will be given the second yellow card and then will miss the next match unless otherwise specified. Accumulation of warnings only starts from the semifinals. According to Article 52, Paragraph 5 of the Asian Cup Regulation, if a player only receives one yellow card during five matches from the first group match to the quarterfinals, the team will be reset immediately if the player advances to the semifinals.
The match against Australia is a very important path when it comes to managing warnings. In the worst-case scenario, the team may have to play in the semifinals without Son Heung-min, Lee Kang-in, and Kim Min-jae. That doesn’t mean you can’t back down from competing with your opponent. The best thing is to open up the score in the early hours and replace it. Korean players should be careful not to receive warnings in the process of protesting against the referee.