Korea Republic coach Uli Stielike says his side must accept the favourites tag ahead of tomorrow night’s semi final against Iraq in Sydney.
Speaking at the official pre-match press conference at Stadium Australia on Sunday afternoon, Stielike noted that his team’s higher FIFA ranking would naturally see them head into the match as favourite.
“Tomorrow will be another game, and we have to accept the role of favourite because we are coming here in the third position of the AFC ranking,” the German said.
“Iraq are number 13, so there’s no discussion that we have to accept this role but we also know that we are playing against the champions of 2007.”
Korea Republic will go in to tomorrow’s match with the added advantage of one extra day of rest after their extra time win over Uzbekistan on Thursday, while Iraq had to battle through a gruelling extra time battle with Iran, which ended in a 7-6 penalty kick victory, 24 hours later in Canberra.
“I think if we are going into the game only thinking of this one more day, that’s the worst thing you can do,” the 60-year-old told the press.
“You’ll only feel the advantage of one more day if you work it out. We have to play the fast ball, we have to fight, we have to challenge, so we have to force iraq to run a lot and only if this is the case maybe we can have a physical advantage.”
Korea Republic will be looking to make their first AFC Asian Cup final since 1988 and midfielder Park Joo-ho said his team gained extra motivation from the fact Korea Republic hasn’t lifted the trophy since 1960.
“Obviously since we haven’t won this tournament for such a long time it’s additional motivation and responsibility,” the Bundesliga-based midfielder said.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to bring this cup home and the players are desperate to win the tournament as well. However we’re not ready to discuss being champions or not at the moment, we have to stay concentrated on tomorrow’s game.
“Back home lots of people want us to win this tournament after 55 years but we have to concentrate on playing the game tomorrow.”