Asian Cup: Early kick-off puts heat on South Korea
South Korea coach Uli Stielike Friday warned a hot afternoon kick-off could put his team at a disadvantage as they prepare to take on desert-hardened Oman at the Asian Cup.
Melbourne: South Korea coach Uli Stielike Friday warned a hot afternoon kick-off could put his team at a disadvantage as they prepare to take on desert-hardened Oman at the Asian Cup.
The German said he would have preferred a later start as players arriving from wintry South Korea or Europe face a difficult adjustment to the Australian conditions.
Temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) are expected in Canberra when South Korea take on Oman in their Group A opener on Saturday.
"For sure, Oman`s players are more used to playing in this climate than our players are, especially those playing in England and Germany," the 60-year-old boss said Friday.
"(So) you can expect us to play an intelligent way of football. What we have to do is to control the ball. If you control the ball you control the heat," added the German.
The 16-nation tournament is taking place at the height of the Australian summer, with most matches kicking off between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm local time because of stifling heat.
But South Korea`s bid to win their first Asian Cup trophy in more than half a century starts at 4:00 pm -- timing that does not suit Stielike.
"Everybody likes to play in the evening but we`ve got to understand that there are television rights. We have to accept this but we would like to play a little bit later," he said.
South Korea are one of the pre-tournament favourites but they face added pressure after a poor World Cup in Brazil last year prompted coach Hong Myung-Bo`s resignation.
Unheralded Stielike was Hong`s surprise replacement and the German believes his side can end their 55-year Asian Cup drought and write South Korea`s name on the trophy for a third time.
"If you don`t win for 55 years then it is time (to do so). That is our intention, what we are working for," he said, adding that every player in his squad was fit.
The former Real Madrid man added that he wanted Koreans to have pride in their team again after angry fans hurled toffees at the players, a traditional insult, when they returned from Brazil.
"We want to bring this team into the heart (of Koreans) and we can only doing that by playing good, quality football," he said.
Oman coach Paul Le Guen joked that his unheralded players, only one of whom, goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, plays in Europe, will just have to "run behind" the pacier Koreans if they maintain possession as expected.
But he hopes the weather will do his side a favour.
"If it`s very hot we won`t complain!" said the Frenchman. "We are ready to take advantage of everything."