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AFC U23 Championship Final: Korea Republic preview


Doha: Shin Tae-yong has insisted there will be no respite for his Korea Republic team as they prepare to take on great rivals Japan in the final of the AFC U23 Championship at Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium on Saturday evening.

Both teams secured berths at the finals of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, with Shin’s side seeing off hosts Qatar after Japan had beaten Iraq to take two of the three tickets for Brazil in the summer.

But with the regional rivalry as intense as ever between the Japanese and Koreans, Shin will not be allowing his team to drop their guard ahead of the final game of the competition.

“Both teams have already achieved their goals, so in that context some fans will think the game will be a comfortable match,” said Shin. “But it’s Korea versus Japan and there’s a lot of pressure and I’m nervous about the game.

“I’ve prepared five different formations for this competition and I’d like to pick one tomorrow from among those that we have shown during the tournament, depending on our analysis of the Japan team.

“I’d like to be flexible, because while the content of the game will be very important, the result will also be important too so I won’t try to be too biased, I will try to get balance. I think the best-prepared team will win tomorrow.”

The Koreans will be without Red Bull Salzburg striker Hwang Hee-chan, who has returned to his parent club in Austria after qualification for Brazil was secured, while Shin has given the rest of the squad a clean bill of health, with central defender Song Ju-hun available after struggling with injury.

“I’m looking forward to the game against Japan,” said Shin. “I always look forward to playing against Japan and I’m glad Japan have made it here.

“The final match between Japan and Korea shows the power of east Asian football. Both teams have played in the Middle East, but both have qualified for the final and it shows the power, strength and influence of East Asian football.

“Concerning the game, I’d like to keep a good relationship with Japan so we can develop into a better team. In the context of tomorrow’s match, I hope all of our fans are interested in this game. I hope that we can keep our concentration until the last minute and we’re looking forward to the game.”

Track the match live via the Match Centre

With Japan having conceded just two goals throughout the entire tournament, Shin knows his side will face a tough time trying to break through the back line of Makoto Teguramori’s team, but the former Ilhwa Chunma midfielder is relishing the challenge.

“I'm aware of Japan and how they play,” he said. “I’ve seen them play and I think they’re the most organised team in defence here, and to win against Japan we need to be ready for that.

“I’ll study more and I’ll apply a flexible formation to deal with that. I will show a specific way in the match tomorrow but if I say anything today it will be a tough match tomorrow.”

Photo: AFC