After playing out a thrilling 2-2 draw against each other in the group stage, South Korea and Jordan are set to meet again in the Asian Cup semifinal in Qatar.
Both teams are ready to go the distance, if required, with extra time and penalties, their coaches said on Monday.
Although Hussein Ammouta’s Jordan reached the semifinals with wins over Iraq and debutants Tajikistan in normal time, South Korea have had a bruising journey to the last four against Asian heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Australia.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s side needed a penalty shootout to beat Saudi Arabia before forcing extra time against Australia in the quarterfinals, playing 120 minutes on both occasions compared to a well-rested Jordan.
“The willingness to suffer, to go to the end if it’s needed – 120 minutes, penalty shootout – we are prepared for that,” Klinsmann said ahead of the match.
“There are many, many factors that are important in order to go far in the tournament and we prepared well. We started in Seoul on December 26 to build fitness and we have only two injuries now. We are extremely hungry.
“It’s the physical and mental side, but it’s also the spirit of the group. It’s a marathon and we’re nearing the end of the marathon. Hopefully, we can win it all.”
‘We will have to struggle’
South Korea advanced after they forced extra time in both their knockout games with stoppage-time goals, and Ammouta praised their resilience.
“It’s true that South Korea have great potential in terms of mental, technical and tactical preparedness. We’ve seen this in different games – the control, possession and quick movement of the ball,” he said.
“I hope we’ve reached the point to put in a good performance, especially in the final minutes of the game. Saudi Arabia and Australia were ahead and they made mistakes at the end.
“Our focus has to be strong and it’s going to be tiring. This is necessary, we will have to struggle.”
Ammouta added that fatigue may not be a factor in Tuesday’s semifinal because South Korea showed how well they coped with going to extra time in two consecutive games.
“Despite playing 120 minutes twice everyone knows the value of South Korea at an individual and collective level. Playing 120 minutes means they’re in good shape,” the Moroccan-born coach said.
“They’re professional players; they can easily recover physically and mentally in 48 hours. I don’t think playing 120 minutes will make a difference.”
While Jordan are playing in their first semifinal, South Korea are looking to advance and end a 64-year trophy drought in the Asian Cup.
Klinsmann, who has won several international titles as a player and a coach, had some simple advice for his players.
“Just stay relaxed look forward to it, eliminate all the things that are not important right now,” the German said.
“This group of players is experienced, they are so motivated. They are so positive that they just want to go all the way to the final and prove themselves.”