SYDNEY: Korea Republic coach Uli Stielike has declared that his sideâ€™s earlier group stage defeat of AFC Asian Cup hosts Australia will count for very little when the two regional powerhouses meet in the competitionâ€™s final in Sydney on Saturday.
The Taeguk Warriors secured a 1-0 win over Ange Postecoglouâ€™s charges on January 17, a victory that saw the Korea Republic seal top spot in Group A ahead of their close rivals.
However, with a handful of Socceroos regulars either missing or starting from the bench for that particular encounter in Brisbane, Stielike is more than aware that the East Asian outfit will face a very different challenge come this weekendâ€™s showdown at Stadium Australia.
â€œ(Mile) Jedinak was injured, (Mathew) Leckie on the bench, (Tim) Cahill on the bench, (Robbie) Kruse on the bench, so it will not be the same Australia,â€ Stielike declared.
POSTECOGLOU: AUSTRALIA TO WAIT ON CELEBRATION
â€œWe will have to work to be the same Korea. This is our target. For the rest, we have to take whatever is coming and try our best. We are realistic enough to understand that in the first game we didn’t play the best Australia team.â€
The Koreans sealed their place in the title showdown thanks to a semi-final win against Iraq on Monday, while Australiaâ€™s 2-0 victory over the UAE in Newcastle 24 hours later saw them motor into a second successive AFC Asian Cup final.
Having not been crowned champions of Asia since 1960, many observers are claiming that the pressure is now on Korea Republic to break their continental hoodoo and deliver the nation a third AFC Asian Cup success.
Stielike, however, believes the Koreans, who are yet to concede a goal Down Under, have already made giant strides irrespective of the result on Saturday.
â€œWhen we came here to Australia we left Korea ranked third in Asia,â€ the German tactician explained.
â€œWhat I said before we left was that we wanted to come back with a better result and the better result has come. We cannot speak any more about pressure. Anything coming now is an extra.
â€œWe will try to win the Asian Cup, no doubt about it. But the team did what they had to do. They have made one big step forward.â€ – AFC