Preview - R16: Saudi Arabia v Korea Republic

2024-01-30 | Since 1 Month

Saudi Arabia v Korea Republic

Doha, 30 January 2024 - Jurgen Klinsmann has told his Korea Republic players to be prepared to go all the way to a penalty shoot-out in their efforts to defeat Saudi Arabia ahead of their AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ clash on Tuesday as both nations look to set-up a quarter-final meeting with Australia.

Klinsmann will be going head-to-head with Saudi Arabia head coach Roberto Mancini for the second time since September, when the nations met in a friendly match in England that the Koreans won 1-0 to give the German his first victory in charge of the Taeguk Warriors.

But Klinsmann admits the challenge facing his side at Education City Stadium will be very different compared to the narrow success achieved at Newcastle’s St James’s Park in only Mancini’s second game in charge of the three-time AFC Asian Cup winners.

“You can see now his handwriting on the team after 10 games and they’re a very good team, but we’re prepared,” Klinsmann said of Mancini, who was appointed in August. “We have our strengths, we have our spirit that we need to believe we can move on.

“We have to believe that we can beat Saudi Arabia, but it will be a lot of hard work, it will be nail biter and it might go to a penalty shootout. Anything can happen in football, you cannot predict what will be next."

“All we know is we have trained hard over the last few weeks and we have a goal in mind. We are focused. We know we made a couple of mistakes but we have corrected them and hopefully you are going to see a really exciting game.”

Klinsmann’s team stuttered through the group phase, eventually finishing second in Group E after following up an opening win over Bahrain with draws against Jordan and Malaysia but, despite those struggles, he remains confident in his team’s ability.

“In all honesty I don’t fear anybody,” said Klinsmann. “No fear, but a lot of respect. A lot of respect for every opponent we play. Before if it was Jordan, if it was Bahrain, if it was Malaysia we respect them all, this is important.

“Roberto is doing a fantastic job. It’s a step-by-step process that he has to go through with his team. It’s a new adventure for him, it’s a new adventure for me being in Korea and coaching this fantastic team.”

Both teams go into the meeting with concerns over their form, with Saudi Arabia struggling to overcome Oman in their tournament opener and drawing 0-0 with Thailand, while the Koreans have shown defensive frailties in their three games so far.

“South Korea is a very good team, even if they conceded six goals in the group stage it doesn’t change their strength because they have very good players,” Mancini said.

“They score a lot of goals. If they concede then maybe we can know that if we attack we have a chance to score.

“Our preparation is the same as for other games, there is no change. We play one of the best teams in the tournament. Not just attackers, the whole team is good. They have speed and quality with players in Europe.

“They have good quality, they have big experience. For us it will be very important to play as a team. I think we have improved a lot in the last months and we are positive.”


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