CANBERRA (AFP) – South Korea coach Uli Stielike on Monday urged his players to find a killer touch against defence-minded Kuwait as they look to secure their place in the Asian Cup quarter-finals.
The Taeguk Warriors are far from prolific and they only defeated Oman 1-0 on Saturday despite dominating possession in their opening Group A clash. And they would have paid for their lack of goals had goalkeeper Kim Jin-Hyeon not expertly tipped a header onto the crossbar at the death.
Stielike said South Korea had to learn to “kill the game” and take their chances when they come.
“Our problem was that during a very good phase when we came out for the second half we had 70 percent of ball possession and we had three clear chances,” Steilike said.
“In that moment you have to kill the game. You have to make it 2-0 and then play the last half-an-hour quietly,” the German added.
“We will not change our philosophy. The team that has control of the ball has control of the game but this team in the big moments has to score and that’s what we have to learn from the Oman game.”
South Korea’s bid for a first Asian Cup trophy in 55 years was dealt a blow shortly before the start of the tournament when target man Kim Shin-Wook was ruled out through injury.
But they still have the ingenuity of Bayer Leverkusen star Son Heung-Min and Saturday’s goalscorer Cho, who is fit to face Kuwait after shaking off an injury. Stielike warned that the Gulf side, who lost 4-1 to Australia in their opening match, would be determined not to concede.
“You think they will attack? I don’t think so,” said the German. “A team who defends from the first minute of the tournament, it’s very difficult for them to change.
“They are not going to come out with three or four offensive players. They’ll have nine men behind the ball, and will close spaces, so we have to move a lot to break them down.”
South Korea last won the Asian Cup in 1960 and are under pressure to deliver after a disappointing World Cup in Brazil last summer saw them exit at the group stage.
They can ill afford to drop points against Kuwait before they square off against the Socceroos in Brisbane on January 17. Victory would see them qualify for the last eight.
Stielike said Cho was fit to face Kuwait after recovering from a knock which saw him substituted late in the game against Oman.
But he has to wait until the morning of Tuesday’s match to know whether right-back Kim Chang-Soo and winger Lee Chung-Yong are ready.
“Normally the players always know one day before the game the starting line-up. In this case it’s not like that. At the moment we don’t know which players are ready for tomorrow’s game,” said the 60-year-old boss.