The Taeguk Warriors set up a semi-final match with Iraq as Iran are shot out.
|A pyrrhic victory? [AFP]|
After a gruelling quarter-final victory over Iran, South Korea’s exhausted players will focus on relaxation instead of training techniques as they prepare for their Asian Cup last-four clash with Iraq.
The Koreans’ Dutch coach Pim Verbeek is worried that Sunday’s game, which went to extra time and penalties, has taken so much out of his players that they will be out on their feet in the semi-final on Wednesday.
“We only have three days to rest and bring the players back mentally and physically,” Verbeek said.
“There is no time for training sessions.”
Iraq, by contrast, played on Saturday and needed only 90 minutes to defeat Vietnam 2-0 in their quarter-final.
“I’m concerned about the fact that we have one day less rest than our opponents and we played 120 minutes,” said Verbeek.
The Koreans beat Iraq 3-0 in a friendly match in Seoul last month but Verbeek is expecting a much tougher encounter when the two sides meet at the Bukit Jalil Stadium for a place in the final of the 14th Asian Cup.
“We scored three goals against them in a friendly but that is past history now,” he said.
“This is a new game and a new challenge.”
Verbeek was part of compatriot Guus Hiddink’s coaching team when Korea reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2002 and he said the spirit of that side is still very much alive.
“I was with the World Cup teams in 2002 and 2006 and I have never seen a Korean team play without that kind of vitality and spirit,” he said.
“That’s why it is very good to be coaching Korean players, especially the young ones. But, we still have done nothing yet. Reaching the semi-finals is nothing. We want to win the Asian Cup.”