Coach : Amir GHALENOEI
Lee Woon-jae continued his amazing record in penalty shootouts on Sunday when he stopped two Iranian spot kicks to send Korea Republic through to the semi-finals of the AFC Asian Cup.
KUALA LUMPUR - Lee Woon-jae continued his amazing record in penalty shootouts on Sunday when he stopped two Iranian spot kicks to send Korea Republic through to the semi-finals of the AFC Asian Cup.
The 34-year-old is perhaps best remembered for his heroics at the 2002 World Cup when he stopped Joaquin's spot-kick in a quarter-final shootout against Spain to send the Taeguk Warriors through to the last four.
But Lee's penalty-stopping exploits have also proved invaluable for his club, Suwon Samsung Bluewings, who have won a string of honours in shootouts with the veteran keeper between the posts.
Lee was in goal when Suwon won both the Asian Club Championship and Asian Super Cup on penalties in 2002 and repeated his heroics two years later when the Bluewings defated Pohang Steelers in yet another shootout in the K-League championship final.
And with his stops on Mehdi Mahdavikia and Rasoul Khatibi in Sunday's quarter-final clash at Bukit Jalil National Stadium, the Korean skipper kept his country on course for a first Asian Cup title in 47 years.
Unsurprisingly, coach Pim Verbeek was delighted with the contribution of the most senior member of his squad, who was named the game's most valuable player.
"I think that Lee Woon-jae really deserved his MVP award today," the Dutch coach said.
"He made some fairly good saves in the second half and of course what he did in the penalty shootout was really, really good."
But Lee himself was modest about his performance, which set up a last four meeting with Iraq in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
"I don't think I made good saves in the shootout," Lee said. "It was more likely the mistakes of the Iranian penalty takers.
"If they had been well taken, I could not have saved them.
"When it comes to penalty shootouts, the advantage is with the goalkeeper because it is the players taking the kicks who will be more nervous.
"So I just had to wait for the moment when the Iran players made their mistakes."
There was some concern for Lee after he stopped Khatibi's attempt with his left foot, a save that would prove crucial as Kim Jung-woo stepped up to slot the ball past Vahid Taleblou with the next spot kick to seal a 4-2 win for the Koreans.
Lee was seen limping away after his save on Khatibi and attended the post-match press conference with his left foot wrapped in ice.
However, he reassured Korean journalists: "There is no problem at all and I will be okay for training tomorrow."
Iran coach Amir Ghalenoei took full responsibility for his side's defeat on Sunday as they went out in the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup after a penalty shootout loss to Korea Republic at Bukit Jalil National Stadium.
KUALA LUMPUR - Iran coach Amir Ghalenoei took full responsibility for his side's defeat on Sunday as they went out in the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup after a penalty shootout loss to Korea Republic at Bukit Jalil National Stadium.
The match went to penalties after the two sides had failed to produce a goal in 120 minutes in difficult, wet conditions in Kuala Lumpur with the Koreans emerging victorious 4-2 after Iran skipper Mehdi Mahdavikia and striker Rasoul Khatibi had their spot kicks saved by Lee Woon-jae.
While clearly disappointed that his side had failed to end their victory drought of 31 years, a disconsolate Ghalenoei paid credit to the team afterwards.
"I would like to thank all of my players one-by-one because they did exactly whatever I asked of them," said the Iran boss.
"On our opportunities and last touch, we were perhaps not so accurate, but I felt that we dominated the match, we created a lot of goalscoring chances and our goalkeeper did not have any difficult saves to make in the whole match, even in extra time.
"But I take all responsibility for the result alone. The players did their best and we had a lot of chances but when it comes to penalty kicks, it depends a lot on chance and tonight, we were not lucky."
The Iranians have been practicing penalties in training since before the tournament kicked off but Ghalenoei that it was still not easy for some of his players to accept the responsibility in the match itself.
"We wanted to choose the players for the shootout based on their performance at training but after the game, I asked some of the key players about taking the penalties and some of them were not willing to take them.
"But you never know what will happen because Rasoul Khatibi is usually a good player to have in a penalty shootout."
The Iran coach would not be drawn on questions about his future now that Iran's involvement in the Asian Cup is over.
"This is not the time to talk about my future plans," he said.
"When I return to Tehran, I can think about that and discuss the matter, but what I want to stress right now is that I take all responsibility for the result of the match."
Goalkeeper Vahid Taleblou missed out a chance to become an Iranian national hero on Sunday as Team Melli were beaten on penalties by Korea Republic in the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup.
KUALA LUMPUR - Goalkeeper Vahid Taleblou missed out a chance to become an Iranian national hero on Sunday as Team Melli were beaten on penalties by Korea Republic in the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup.
The Esteghlal keeper had not seen a minute of action in the Asian Cup until he was summoned off the bench by coach Amir Ghalenoei to replace Hassan Roudbarian in the dying seconds of extra time in order to participate in the penalty shootout.
But while Taleblou was able to use his 1.9-metre frame to keep out a spot kick by Kim Do-heon, saves by his opposite number, Lee Woon-jae, on Mehdi Mahdavikia and Rasoul Khatibi meant that the east Asian side advanced to face Iraq in the semi-finals on Wednesday.
Ghalenoei said that his decision to bring on Taleblou was prompted by his performances at practice, were he had proven himself to be a good spot kick stopper.
"I think that he was very successful in stopping penalties because he saved 17 in training," the Iran coach explained.
Taleblou had begun warming up during the first half of extra time when it appeared that the game would be going to penalties.
"He was warming up for 20 minutes before he came on but I made sure he did it away from the pitch as I didn't want him to train in an aread where Hassan Roudbarian could see him."
Taleblou himself was ruing his missed opportunity later.
"I had a very good opportunity to become a hero but it was not to be," the 25-year-old said.
"I tried my best to serve my country well but it wasn't enough for us at the end.
"I believe that I did well but unfortunately, luck was not with us and the result was a big disappointment because we dominated the game."