Preview - Round of 16: Korea Republic v Bahrain
Dubai: Bahrain head coach Miroslav Soukup is looking forward to their AFC Asian Cup Round of 16 clash with Korea Republic at the Rashid Stadium on Tuesday, stating his players are hungry to make their mark on the Continental stage.
The West Asians will be making their first appearance in the knockout stage since 2004, ending that campaign with their best-ever AFC Asian Cup achievement of fourth place.
Bahrain booked their spot in the UAE 2019 last 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams, courtesy of a 1-1 draw with host nation UAE and a last-gasp 1-0 win over India.
After a week of recuperation and preparation, Soukup believes his side can take on the two-time champions if his players perform as they did against India.
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“We are giving ourselves motivation because nobody is pressuring us,” said Soukup. “My team has worked really hard in the preparation.
“We are pressuring ourselves, because my players are hungry to achieve results and they are ready.
“After our last game against India, we had six days to prepare our team, so we are not tired. I hope that we can repeat our performance against India, maybe the game will not be easy for Korea Republic and will be dramatic.”
The Taeguk Warriors last lifted the AFC Asian Cup title in 1960, having also won the inaugural edition four years earlier.
Since then, Korea Republic have finished runners-up four times, with the most recent in 2015, where they lost to host nation Australia 2-1.
Korea Republic have been impressive thus far, powering to the top of Group D with wins over Philippines, Kyrgyz Republic and China PR - results which head coach Paulo Bento believes will drive his team against Bahrain.
“It’s always good motivation to win all the games in the group stage,” said Bento,
“All the victories that we achieved were without conceding goals, so that shows the consistency of the team.
“We will try in this next phase of the competition to play with the same confidence and try to do our best to reach the quarter-finals.”
He also brushed off talk that Korea Republic, who will be without influential midfielder Ki Sung-yueng, are favourites for the title.
“We know that we are candidates but I think we are not the only favourites in this competition.”
Round of 16
Korea Republic v Bahrain
Rashid Stadium, Dubai
17:00 (Local time)
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