SYDNEY (AFP) – South Korea will look to end 55 years of Asian Cup hurt in Australia mindful that another flop could result in retribution from their fans – in the form of an avalanche of toffee.
The 2002 World Cup semi-finalists last won the Asian title in 1960 – the year Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, won Olympic boxing gold and Elvis Presley returned from military duty in Germany.
South Korea’s players were pelted with toffees by angry fans on their return to Seoul as last year’s World Cup came to a sticky end – a traditional insult in the country, where “Go eat a toffee!” translates as a fruitier version of “Get lost!”
The Koreans partially atoned for their winless exit from Brazil by ending a 28-year gold medal drought at the Asian Games in October, overcoming bitter rivals North Korea in a politically charged final on home soil.
South Korea’s senior side have never come close to replicating the success of 2002, when their remarkable World Cup run sparked hysteria and turned the players and Dutch coach Guus Hiddink into national heroes.
And they will need to show similar mental steel and attacking verve if they are to emulate the under-23s and win the Asian Cup for a third time.