Asian Cup Preview: Korea DPR v Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia will look to attest their disappointing result against China when they take on Korea DPR in the first real elimination game of the group.
A draw won’t help either team and a loss will have either manager looking towards the younger players of their squad for the final match.
The Melbourne crowd will be very different from the pro China crowd that Saudi Arabia faced in Brisbane and this should aid the players.
Saudi Arabia showed very positive signs when they went behind and managed to attack the game to the final whistle.
The Green Falcons will be looking to build on their impressive second place performance in the 2014 edition of the Gulf Cup last November.
The squad has the ability to perform well if they can stick together under new coach Cosmin Olaroiu.
The team jelled better than most expected in their opening clash considering the new coach has barely had time to assess the players he has at his disposal.
Played: 8 Korea DPR: 1 Draws: 4 Saudi Arabia 3
Saudi Arabia will dominate the midfield and play a fast paced passing game. Korea DPR will be content sitting back waiting for the game to happen right before their eyes.
Saudi Arabia must take the ascendency and take advantage of those opportunities created in the final third.
Korea DPR only completed 249 passes during their first game, the second lowest in the tournament.
Korea DPR played true to their FIFA ranking of 150 and neither looked interested or capable of being a threat in the group stage.
The big issue:
Will the real Korea DPR stand up? Not likely if their opening performance is anything to judge by.
There will always be nations who attend major tournaments just to make up numbers, but Korea DPR took this literally during their clash against Uzbekistan.
A classy header from Pak Kwang-Ryong almost stole a point in the final minute of play but that was the only time Korea DPR looked like scoring.
The loss of controversial figure Nasser Al-Shamrani before the cup has definitely put the Saudi Arabia preparation on the back foot but players need like Naif Hazizi to put their proud football nation back alongside Japan, South Korea and Australia.
Hazizi needs to bury the demons from his costly penalty miss and what better way than an early goal on Wednesday.
Great players seize moments in big tournaments, not many players get two chances at this.
Korea DPR will be looking towards the next edition of the AFC Challenge Cup after they are beaten by a well organised Saudi Arabian outfit.
Saudi Arabia 2-0