Hong Yong-Jo missed an early penalty as North Korea and UAE played out the first goalless draw of the 2011 Asian Cup in their opening Group D fixture at Qatar Sports Club Stadium.
However, Jo Tong-Sop will be the happier of the two managers after seeing his Korean side outplayed for the vast majority of the contest. The outcome could have been much different, though, if Korea had taken advantage of a golden opportunity in the sixth minute.
A long ball down the left was hooked back by Hong into towards Jong Tae-Se, who took it on his chest before the Bochum striker was bundled over by Hamdan Al Kamali. Hong took the penalty himself but his effort smacked the bar and rebounded to safety.
UAE went on to dominate the first 45 minutes but were unable to find the breakthrough. Ri Myong-Guk enjoyed some good fortune in the 17th minute when his poor punch landed at Ahmed Khalili's feet on the edge of the box but the forward's shot hit the Korean keeper's leg as he rushed out and the danger passed.
Al Kamali almost made an impact at the right end nine minutes later when he lost his marker and met Subait Khater's dangerous inswinging free-kick with a back header from close range that flew just over the bar. Ismaeil Matar then volleyed Amer Abdulrahman's long pass wide when free in the box as the first-half ended goalless.
Chances were harder to come by in the second period but Matar saw a 30-yard snap shot whistle narrowly over in the 54th minute before Ri twice denied UAE as the final whistle approached.
First, Matar's bustling run was halted in the box but the ball fell to Ismail Al Hammadi and his shot was turned behind by the Korean keeper at his near post, who then had to be at full stretch to palm away substitute Saeed Al Kathri's glancing header from Khater's cross.
UAE manager Srecko Katanec lamented his side's finishing after a goalless draw
with North Korea in their opening Asian Cup Group D game - but refused to be too
downhearted after what he felt was otherwise an excellent performance.
"I'm very satisfied with our performance and how we played because my team
showed character and nice skill,'' said former Sampdoria midfielder Katanec. "Unfortunately we created a lot of chances but we didn't score, this is the
problem. With other things I'm very, very satisfied and I hope my team will play
like this for the next two games.
"We have had this problem in this area for a long time. I don't know what to
expect here but our strikers in the league they don't play, they don't have too
much practice, but I cannot change that.
"But I will be satisfied if we play like this again, this is most important. I
see here that we have quality so we will score, God willing, in the next game.
"But I also have to say the missed penalty, if they score the penalty maybe
the game is completely different, but after the missed penalty my team took the
ball in their hands and we were the boss on the field.''
Coach Jo Tong-sop admitted his North Korea side, who reached last summer's
World Cup finals in South Africa, were second best throughout.
"We had a chance with the penalty in the first half but after the failure of
the penalty, the players did not play well,'' he said.
"In the second half, we tried not to concede a goal and score on the
counter-attack but still the players did not play well. So generally, I could
say the play was not so good, it was not as we had expected.
"We tried to win the match but we have experience from this game and we can
take this into the next two games.
"Those two teams (Iraq and Iran) will be very difficult to play against but we
know their weaknesses and we will try to use that to get the points that mean we