Five times world champion Brazil will be facing off with South Korea at Stadium 974 in Doha in what is expected to be an entertaining round of 16 knockout stages match. The Brazilians finished top of Group G but suffered a shocking defeat to Cameroon on the last group stage match day whereas the Koreans finished as runners-up in Group H after a 90 minutes strike earned them a win over Portugal. In their last Group G match against Cameroon, a much-changed Brazil team had numerous opportunities to score, but Devis Epassy's outstanding goalkeeping and the carelessness of Tite's fringe players prevented that from happening. Cameroon held out for 92 minutes before securing a famous win through Vincent Aboubakar, who was sent off for a shirt-stripping celebration having already been booked.
Brazil's nine-game winning streak has now come to an end, despite the nation still being one of the favorites to win the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup which has been branded the ‘world cup of giants killings’. It should be noted that Brazil's slender wins against Serbia and Switzerland did not come with the attacking ruthlessness that was expected of them. Slow starts have been a theme for the five-time champions at the Qatar tournament so far, and they have now gone five World Cup matches without scoring in the first half. This will need to be rectified should they wish to on to their favorites tag a little while longer. Nevertheless, it has now been 32 years since Brazil was knocked out in the round of 16 when they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Argentina after Claudio Caniggia's strike.
After the events of Friday afternoon that saw South Korea shock Portugal with a last-minute goal to qualify for the elimination rounds, an all-Asian quarterfinal is now a possibility. Portugal's Ricardo Horta scored the opening goal of the match early in the game as Kim Young-Gwon leveled the scores for South Korea just minutes before halftime. With 91 minutes on the clock, Hwang-Hee Chan scored the winner for South Korea to send the Koreans into a celebratory mood at the blow of the whistle. However, celebrations quickly died down at the final whistle as players gathered to watch the outcome of Uruguay's clash with Ghana, and a 2-0 win for the South American nation was not enough to send them into the knockout rounds. Neither Uruguay nor Portugal - albeit a heavily altered one - possessed the formula for success against South Korea, who could potentially meet near neighbours Japan in the quarter-finals, although their fellow Asians face their own daunting last-16 clash with Croatia on Monday as well.
It is expected to be a difficult clash but five times world champions Brazil will emerge victorious with at least 2 goals.
(Image: Khel now)