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29 November 2022, 11:09

S. Korean forward enjoys coming-out party in loss

Photo: en.yna.co.kr
Photo: en.yna.co.kr

AL RAYYAN, 29 November (BelTA -Yonhap News). - The up-and-coming forward Cho Gue-sung was one of few bright spots for South Korea in their 3-2 loss to Ghana on Monday, as he made the most of his first FIFA World Cup start with a historic performance.

By heading in two goals, Cho became the first South Korean player to score multiple times in a World Cup match. His brace dragged the Taegeuk Warriors out of a 2-0 hole against Ghana, before they ultimately fell by one goal at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, west of Doha, for their first loss in Group H play.

South Korea were down 2-0 at halftime, but it was Cho's back-to-back headers, in the 58th and the 61st minutes, that changed the complexion of the contest.

Cho had come off the bench against Uruguay in the opening Group H match last week, with the veteran Hwang Ui-jo getting the starting nod despite his recent struggles finding the back of the net. Hwang missed a golden opportunity in the first half of that match, which ended in a goalless draw, while Cho had some promising moments as a sub in the second half.

Head coach Paulo Bento finally gave Cho the start on Monday and, the crushing loss aside, Cho put on an encouraging performance for a team that has often had trouble channeling ball possession advantage into goals and could always use a poacher.

Both of Cho's headers epitomized what makes him such a dangerous forward, as he found space behind the defense and fought off bodies to beat them to the ball.

"I wanted to prove myself on a big stage like this, and I wanted to reward the coach for his faith in me," Cho said. "The coach wanted me to battle up front, and I did the best I could."

Cho said Bento had told him earlier in the week that he could shuffle the starting lineup from last week's match. And his mindset coming into Monday was to stay in the present and not put pressure on himself.

"In every match, I think to myself, 'I should do what I can from my position,' instead of 'I have to play well,'" Cho said. "Even after I scored the equalizer, I couldn't think of anything else. I wanted to keep pushing and pushing."

Cho won the South Korean league scoring title this year, with 17 markers for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. This was just three years after his humble beginnings in the second division.

"I am really a nobody, but I got to score goals in a World Cup match," Cho said. "If you keep trusting yourself and keep chasing your dreams, then you can score on a big stage like this. I still find it hard to believe I was able to score today."

Cho said, however, a victory would have been better than the goals record.

"Obviously, I am honored, but I wanted a victory more than the two goals," Cho said. "I am devastated."

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