South Korea coach Uli Stielike believes he already knows who his side will face on Saturday after their 2-0 semi final win over Iraq.
The Taeguk Warriors will appear in their first continental final since 1988 and are hoping to lift their first Asian trophy in 55 years.
“For me there’s no doubt that tomorrow Australia will win,” Stielike said after the match. “They play very cool, each player knows what he has to do. They have very strict tactics.
“It won’t be the same Australia [we played in the group stage]. We have to take what’s coming and try our best.”
The German coach noted that South Korea’s road to the final was one intended to be taken by hosts Australia.
“The [tournament’s] design was made for Australia, but with our victory we were put in Australia’s position and that gave us one more day of rest,” Stielike said. “The host always tries to have the best path to the final, and that’s legal.
“If you saw how a lot of players finished the last game against Uzbekistan, I’m not sure if we’d played a day later whether or not we could have put good players on the pitch.”
Despite a result that could see South Korea ascend to the top of the AFC’s rankings, the 60-year-old former German international believes there is much to be done.
“When we came here to Australia, [South Korea was] third in the AFC,” the coach reflected. “I said before we left Korea that we want to come back with a better result. The better result was today.
“We will try to get this cup, no doubt about it. But the team did what they had to do and took a big step forward.
“[But] even if we win the tournament, Korean football has a lot of work to do.”
Stielike’s side will have four full days of preparation before returning to Sydney’s Stadium Australia in order to face the winner of Tuesday’s Australia-UAE match.