Korea Republic will play Oman at Canberra Stadium on Saturday January 10 at 4pm AEDST.
Inaugural winners of the Asian Cup, the Korea Republic square off against Oman, a team yet to progress from the group stage in its only two other attempts. Is a surprise in store in the nation’s capital?
Played 3: Korea Republic 2 wins, Oman 1 win
The Group A contenders met one another on three occasions within a year in 2003 and 2004.
The hosts won each match, which suggests that there could be precious little between the teams when playing on neutral ground.
Uli Stielike’s diversion from a straightforward, and an at times predictable, style of play has brought about the introduction of a more patient Korean side that will look to strategically bring the ball forward.
A 4-2-3-1 will enable the wing-backs, including the racy Cha Du-Ri, to push forward to aid the likes of Park Chu-Young and Lee Kyun-Ho higher up the park.
The two-time winners will look to dominate possession and build their attacks to a rifling crescendo to outdo the usually well regimented Omanis.
The latter will likely employ the same 4-4-2 that coach Paul Le Guen has used with some success over the past few years and, most recently, at November’s Gulf Cup where they topped the group.
When defending, the Red Warriors will have their midfield compress in order to flood the Koreans.
Their danger will be on the counter-attack as they will seek to get runners involved to service the likes of Al-Muqbali and Al-Ruzaiqi.
The big issue
Oman’s defensive fortitude: By far their strongest component, the Omani defence will once again need to be at their best to thwart what is likely to be a regular number of Korean forays coming their way.
The back four work well in tandem, which is evidenced by the fact that they conceded only once on route to this tournament.
Abdul Amer and Mohammed Al-Musalami, who patrol the central corridor, are aggressive defenders and will need to be diligent in their attempts to safeguard Al Al-Habsi in the Omani goal.
The game breaker
Korean, Ki Sung-yueng, who plies his trade with Swansea City in the English Premier League will look to continue the sort of impressive form that has seen him establish himself as a key player in the Welsh outfit.
The talented midfielder is no stranger to Australia, having been sent to Brisbane by his father, as a means for Ki to play football and learn English.
A vital cog in the Taeguk Warriors’ outfit, whose no nonsense tackling and pinpoint distribution will be a thorn in the sides of his opponents.
Korea Republic will be buoyed by their win against Saudi Arabia in their final warm-up match and know that there is no time for errors in what will be a pivotal match in their quest to claim the group’s top spot.
Their mainly international-based squad has the firepower to undo the Omanis, who themselves will do everything they can do secure a valuable point. It won’t be enough though to deny the Koreans a perfect start to the competition.
Korea Republic 2 - 1 Omancomments