CANBERRA (AFP) – Former Tottenham Hotspur and PSV Eindhoven star Lee Young-Pyo Thursday told AFP that South Korea’s Asian Cup would be considered a “failure” if they don’t reach the semi-finals.
The retired fullback, who is one of South Korea’s most capped players of all time, said the squad were under pressure to perform after a disappointing World Cup in Brazil last summer.
“We have to get to the semi-final,” said Lee, who also played for Borussia Dortmund in a glittering career which saw him make 127 appearances for his country.
“(South) Korea are one of the best teams in Asia,” the 37-year-old added. “We have enough ability to reach the semi-finals. After the semi-finals nobody knows what is going to happen.
“If we don’t get to the semi-finals then we would have definitely failed. It would be very disappointing,” said Lee, who is commentating on the tournament for Korean TV.
The 1956 and 1960 winners are looking to end 55 years of disappointment at the Asian Cup – and avoid being pelted with toffee when they return to Seoul.
Angry fans hurled toffees at South Korea’s players when the 2002 World Cup semi-finalists returned winless from last year’s edition in Brazil. “Go eat a toffee!” is a sexually charged Korean insult.
“I think the players are under a bit of pressure because the World Cup wasn’t good,” said Lee. “They know they need to perform well at this tournament.
“This is one of the widest-open Asian Cups ever. It is going to be very difficult to predict. The level between the likes of Japan, South Korea and Australia is very tight.
“So if we can just get to the semi-finals, after that nobody knows what is going to happen.”