Analysis: Korea Republic v Oman

Our Korean-based Asian football expert analyses the Socceroos' two other group opponents Korea Republic and Oman, who faced each other on Saturday.

In some ways, the 2015 AFC Asian Cup really started on Saturday afternoon in Canberra between Korea Republic and Oman. 

The first game that does not involve the host nation gives fans a real flavour of the feast to come and while the 1-0 win to Korea did not quite match the heights of Australia's 4-1 win over Kuwait on Friday night, there was plenty to enjoy.

An hour before kick-off, the downpour started to stop, the Korean fans started to scream as their heroes warmed-up and the meat pies were finally ready. 

The rain came again in the second half to ensure that the 12,552 fans that got wet on the way to the arena, went through the same on the way home.

Yet, in between they created an enjoyable atmosphere. If this was your first ever game of football then it was a good one – though unlike Friday night's 4-1 tournament opener in Melbourne, tense right until the end. 

And if this was your first game of football, well, just imagine what it would be like when the sun is shining. Imagine what it would be like when Son Heung-min is shining, too?

The German-based star, almost anointed already as the star of the tournament, does what he often does for his country and tried a little too hard. 

He brushed the bar early on and was frequently the focus of attacks but just was not able to break into the area and unleash those famous projectile missiles. Korea started slowly and didn't look comfortable against the pace and darting runs of Qasim Said and Abdulaziz Al Maqbali.

Oman looked dangerous. Coach Paul Le Guen admitted that Korea deserved the win but lamented the non-award of a early penalty. He can't have been too impressed with his goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi in first half injury time. 

The low shot from Koo ja-cheol was well-struck but the ex-English Premier League star parried the ball into the path of Cho Yong-cheol who finished smartly.

The goal changed everything, as goals often do. It gave Korea the platform to control the second half. Suddenly, the passes were sticking, the tempo was lifted and the red shirts were getting behind the west Asian defence. Oman had diminished; forced back and confidence draining.

Yet, Korea habitually struggle to finish games when they are on top. 

Al Habsi had something to do with that but this team struggles to keep tempo high when entering the final third. And Uli Stielike's men almost paid the price. Abdulaziz Al Maqbali mis-controlled when free at the far post and in the final seconds, a combination of goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon and the crossbar saved Korea.

Next is a clash with Kuwait and an opportunity to, perhaps, seal a place in the quarter-finals before that clash with Australia. Three points are in the bag and another win and an improved performance will go down very well indeed.

Oman go to Sydney and the Socceroos. “I like our fighting spirit,” said Le Guen. 

It will be needed as defeat will almost certainly mean the end.