New boss Choi Kang-Hee got the job done but it wasn't easy after a tense, goalless first 45, before the vital goals arrivedNew coach Choi Kang-Hee has guided South Korea into the fourth and final round of World Cup qualifying after a tense 2-0 victory over Kuwait in Seoul on Wednesday.
The Taeguk Warriors, who lost to Lebanon in their last qualifier leading to Cho Kwang-Rae's sacking, needed to get a result against Al-Azraq to ensure their progress into the next phase.
The first opportunity of the match fell to Kuwait. Goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong came out of goal and Waleed Ali Jumah tried his luck from long distance with a shot which nearly crept in.
The Koreans couldn't hold possession and tried to run the game with long balls using their height advantage in attack.
Finally, the hosts got a first scoring chance in the 28th minute but Han Sang-Woon's shot skimmed past the post. This was the best chance of the first half and the battle in midfield heated up and started to get physical, with the atmosphere tense.
It was all Kuwait early in the second 45 minutes as the Korean defence gave the ball away too easily in their own area, and the visitors went close with a shot from distance that canoned back off the crossbar.
Choi had to do something and on 52 minutes he substituted Kim Do-Heon for Celtic's Ki Sung-Yeung. Korea started to gain more of the ball and the atmosphere began to change, and on 66 minutes Korea got the crucial first goal through veteran striker Lee Dong-Gook.
It was another long ball from the middle and substitute Kim Shin-Wook got the header which eventually lead to a pass to Lee Keun-Ho, who crossed to the middle and Lee Dong-Gook calmly put the ball into the net.
Five minutes later the mood lifted at the Seoul World Cup Stadium when the hosts got the killer second goal.
This time it was Lee Keun-Ho. Lee Dong-Gook put in a cross from outside of the box which fell into Choi Hyo-Jin, who slid the ball inside to Lee Keun-Ho and he fired past the keeper.