'Too shy' Korea Republic seek a mental edge
The Taeguk Warriors are keen to put aside a disappointing World Cup campaign in Brazil – where they were eliminated in the group stage – and end a continental trophy drought dating back to 1960.
Lee, who now works as an analyst for Korean broadcaster KBS, says a positive 2015 title tilt could help reboot the game for the Asian powerhouse.
“At the last World Cup, it was very disappointing for the whole country,” Lee told afcasiancup.com.
“But everyone is thinking to restart Korean football. Everyone is focused on the Asian Cup, because there’s a change in the mood in our national team.
“I believe every player in the team has the right mentality and I think we can show that we are better than we were at the last World Cup.”
The Koreans are grouped with host nation Australia in Group A and kick off their campaign against Oman on Saturday.
Lee said German coach, Uli Stielike – who only took over in September after Hong Myung-bo’s departure – has been trying to build a more confident unit ahead of the tournament.
“He told us he would try to change the mentality because some of the players are too shy on the pitch,” he said of the former Real Madrid star.
“He has asked them to become stronger and more confident, and if we do that then we can go on to be much better than before.
“But it’s going to take more than a few months, we will need more than one year. I believe we can show something different at the end of the year.”
Lee retired from international football after the Koreans claimed third at the last Asian Cup is unsure whether the 2015 team can re-ascend to the summit of continental football.
“I think in 2011 in Qatar at the Asian Cup our team was fantastic,” he said.
“Individually this team I can’t say is better than 2011, but they’re still strong. We can reach the semi-finals, but I don’t know if we can go further than that.
“In Qatar, we played six games, we won four and we drew two against Japan and Australia. But we lost the semi-final on penalties. It was a great pity because we had one of the best teams in Korean history.
“I don’t know exactly why we didn’t get the Asian Cup title in the last 55 years and I think that’s too long, but I believe we can make a new history and become Asian Cup champions sometime soon.”