Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Sydney: Korea Republic coach Uli Stielike is expecting to face off against tournament hosts Australia in the final of the AFC Asian Cup after seeing his own team book their berth in Saturday’s showpiece with a 2-0 win over Iraq.
Lee Jeong-hyeop and Kim Young-gwon scored a goal in each half to send the Koreans into the final of the AFC Asian Cup for the first time since losing on penalties to Saudi Arabia in 1988, and the German is confident his team will face a rematch with Ange Postecoglou’s side at Stadium Australia at the weekend.
“Australia, I have no doubt about it,” he said when asked who he expected to win the semi-final between the Socceroos and the United Arab Emirates.
“Australia are the strongest team in the tournament. They play very good and very coolly, each player knows exactly what he has to do. They have very strict tactics and so, to me, there’s no doubt about it that Australia will go through.
Stielike’s side handed the Australians a 1-0 defeat in the group stages of the tournament, a result which saw Korea top Group A and benefit from additional rest days during the knockout phase.
But despite that win, the Korea Republic coach does not expect his side to have an advantage should they meet the hosts again.
“(Mile) Jedinak was injured, (Mathew) Leckie on the bench, (Tim) Cahill on the bench, (Robbie) Kruse on the bench, so it will not be the same Australia,” he said.
“We will have to work to be the same Korea. This is our target. For the rest, we have to take whatever is coming and try our best. We are realistic that in the first game we didn't play the best Australia team.”
The Koreans came into the tournament ranked third in the Asian Football Confederation and, with a place secured in the final, Stielike believes his team can play with no pressure having reached their target of surpassing their ranking.
“When we came here to Australia we left Korea in the third position in the AFC ranking,” said Stielike. “What I said before we left, we want to come back with a better result and the better result has come today, so anything coming now is extra.
“We cannot speak any more about pressure. Anything coming now is an extra. We will try to get this Cup, no doubt about it, but the team did what they have to do. They go one big step forward.”