Syria 0 South Korea 0: Alma frustrates Stielike's men


South Korea had to settle for a goalless draw in Tuesday’s AFC World Cup qualifier versus Syria on neutral ground in Malaysia.

Uli Stielike's men beat China 3-2 in their Group A opener, whereas Syria started the final round-robin stage of AFC qualification with a 1-0 defeat to Uzbekistan last week.

South Korea were high on confidence and enjoyed the majority of possession, with Syria happy to sit back and defend, but only created a few chances of note.

Syria failed to trouble their opponents on the counter-attack as both sides dropped two precious points in the bid to reach the 2018 finals in Russia.

South Korea made a fine start to the game and could have gone a goal up after just 12 minutes when Koo Ja-cheol popped up in a dangerous position after a clever throughball, only for Syria goalkeeper Ibrahim Alma to deny the midfielder with a fine save.

Moayad Al Ajan's opportunistic free kick from 30 yards out shortly before the break represented Syria's biggest opportunity, though shot stopper Kim Seung-gyu was not worried by the strike.

The visitors continued to dominate after the break and were unfortunate not to break the deadlock through Lee Chung-yong in the 57th minute. Yong Lee did well to reach the Crystal Palace winger with a low cross after a good run down the right, but Alma pulled off a superb save to push his attempt wide for a corner.

Stielike's men pressed hard for the winner in the closing stages of the game, but their efforts were to no avail as it ended all square in Seremban.