What: 2011 Asian Cup Third Place Playoff
Who: South Korea vs Uzbekistan
When: Friday 28th January, 2011, at 15:00 UK Time
Where: Al-Sadd Stadium, Doha, Qatar
South Korea’s semi-final defeat to Japan in the 2011 Asian Cup will go down as one of the tournament’s best ever matches, however that will be of small solace to Taeguk Warriors supporters who were dreaming of a first final appearance since 1988. Amazingly without a title in this competition since 1960, despite being one of the top sides in Asia, South Korea must now pick up the pieces and find the resilience needed to take on Uzbekistan in the playoff for third place.
Cho Kwang-Rae’s team must now focus their attempts on claiming third spot, which brings with it a berth in the next Asian Cup. The South Korean boss had no complaints about his team’s battling spirit despite the loss to Japan. “We were in a difficult situation to play the second extra-time match in a row. We showed how strong we are, our fighting spirit and passion to play good football”, said the 56-year-old. With the likes of Lee Young-Pyo and potentially Park Ji-Sung retiring from international play, this match could prove to be the end of an era for this South Korean side.
Uzbekistan tasted the heaviest ever semi-final defeat in Asian Cup history with their 6-0 loss to Australia. Though Vadim Abramov’s side played a good deal of the second half reduced to ten men, the manner of the loss left a bad taste in the mouth of all involved with the team. This after Uzbekistan had made history by reaching the final four of the competition for the first time.
Abramov and his players were so disappointed by the size of the defeat that apologies were issued to those following back in Uzbekistan. “I’m very sorry for the people who came to the stadium and also the supporters in Uzbekistan”, said Abramov, adding “The way we played today, I cannot describe it. We were prepared, but played badly, we made too many mistakes.”
Abramov has insisted though that his side will put forth a much improved display against South Korea and despite their embarrassing loss to the Socceroos, Uzbekistan have a “chance” to claim third place against the Koreans.
South Korea 4-1 India
(18/01; Asian Cup Group C)
Iran 0-1 South Korea
(22/01; Asian Cup quarter-final)
Japan 2-2 South Korea
(25/01; Asian Cup semi-final)
China 2-2 Uzbekistan
(16/01; Asian Cup Group A)
Uzbekistan 2-1 Jordan (21/01; Asian Cup quarter-final)
Uzbekistan 0-6 Australia (25/01; Asian Cup semi-final)
Players to watch
South Korea – Park Ji-Sung: It could be a landmark day for South Korean football as this might possibly be the Manchester United midfielder’s last match for South Korea. The 29-year-old all-action midfielder has had a terrific tournament even by his lofty standards and if he chooses to retire from international football it will be a massive loss for the Koreans. With over 100 international caps to his name, Park Ji-Sung’s performances for club and country prove that he is one of the best players Asia have ever produced.
Uzbekistan – Server Djeparov: The 2008 Asian Player of the Year has had a fine tournament as the leading player of a surprise Uzbekistan side. The influential midfielder could do nothing to stem the tide against a rampant Australia though. If Uzbekistan are to have any chance of pulling off an upset against South Korea, then the inspiration and quality to do so will undoubtedly come from the feet of the mercurial Djeparov.
Third-place matches are traditionally open, high-scoring affairs with little to play for except pride. In this case however, there is a lot on the line as the winner of this match receives automatic qualification to the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia. South Korea played their part in an all-time tournament classic in the semi-final defeat to Japan, while it is unlikely that Uzbekistan will be as disastrous at the back as they were against Australia. An improved Uzbekistan are to be expected, but in the end the Koreans will come away with the victory. South Korea 3-1 Uzbekistan.