Football: South Korea near Asian Cup quarters by edging Kuwait 1-0

CANBERRA(AFP) - South Korea laboured to a 1-0 win over Kuwait in a wet Canberra on Tuesday, making it two wins from two and putting them within touching distance of the Asian Cup football quarter-finals.

Taeguk Warriors boss Uli Stielike made seven changes from the starting XI that defeated Oman by a solitary goal in his side's opening match at the weekend.

Several of those were forced, with midfielder Lee Chung Yong ruled out of the rest of the Asian Cup earlier in the day after suffering a leg fracture in the victory over the Gulf side.

Right-back Kim Chang Soo, who was forced off early in the Oman match after a crunching tackle, also failed to recover in time, while Saturday's goal-scorer Cho Young Cheol started on the bench.

It was one of the replacements, Lee Keun Ho, who should have opened the scoring on the half-hour mark when he was put clean through on goal by a delightful threaded pass from Kim Min Woo.

Rather than blast the ball, Lee opted for a delicate chip but it was well tipped round for a corner by Kuwait goalkeeper Hameed Youssef, much to the annoyance of Stielike on the touchline.

But six minutes later when South Korea had their breakthrough when midfielder Nam Tae Hee connected powerfully with a perfect cross from the marauding Cha Du Ri to bury a header past Youssef, sending the majority-Korean support into raptures.

Stielike made one change at half-time, bringing on marksman Cho, but it was the Kuwaitis who started the second period the sharpest, almost snatching an immediate equaliser as wide man Ali Almaqseed's fizzing drive from long-range slammed against the post.

The final 30 minutes was end-to-end with both sides having good chances. Lee headed just wide before Fahed Al Ebrahim's deft poke was pushed out for a corner at the other end.

But neither team could capitalise and it finished 1-0, South Korea moving to a maximum six points for the tournament while the Kuwaitis are virtually eliminated.