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Thursday August 29, 2013 MYT 4:42:00 PM
Thursday August 29, 2013 MYT 4:44:08 PM
by aftar singh
Malaysia's Mohd Sukri Abdul Mutalib (blue) getting the ball away from Pakistan's Muhammad Dilber during their Asia Cup Group A match. Pakistan won 4-1. Pakistan will need to beat South Korea and win the Asia Cup to qualify for the World Cup in The Hague, Holland.
IPOH: The Asia Cup semi-final between three-time champions Pakistan and defending champions South Korea on Friday has all the ingredients for an explosive affair.
They each have a mission: South Korea are out to defend the crown while Pakistan need to win the Asia Cup to qualify for 2014 World Cup in The Hague, Holland.
If they fail, it will be the first time that four-time world champions Pakistan won’t feature in the World Cup since its inception in 1971.
South Korea have already booked a spot in the World Cup.
Both teams last met in the World League semi-finals in Johor Baru last month, with South Korea edging Pakistan 4-3 in the quarter-finals.
Pakistan skipper Muhammad Imran acknowledged that theirs “is a do-or-die mission”.
“We must win the match ... but it’s never easy playing against the Koreans, who never stop creating chances until the very last seconds of the match,” said Imran.
“The pressure will definitely be on us. We must be on our toes for the whole duration.
“It will be a big blow if we were to lose to them in the semis as it will kill our hopes of playing in the World Cup for good.
“We need to stay calm and capitalise on the chances created.”
South Korea coach Shin Seok-kyo is predicting a “fantastic” semi-final.
“Matches against Pakistan have always been touch-and-go ... it won’t be any different this time,” said Seok-kyo.
“I’m confident that my players will step up a gear and play their best against Pakistan, who have been the most impressive team in this tournament.
“Our only setback is that we have lost the services of playmaker and centre-half Hong Eun-seong, who fractured his finger in Seoul just days before the tournament began.
“I’m pleased with the performance of Lee Nam-yong, who has been marshalling the midfield quite well.
“I hope the weather will be fine tomorrow as we want to play a fast attacking game.”
Tags / Keywords:
hockey, Asia Cup, Pakistan, South Korea, Muhammad Imran, Shin Seok-kyo
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