Soccer-South Korea and Jordan expect to 'suffer' in Asian Cup semi-final


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - AFC Asian Cup - Quarter Final - Australia v South Korea - Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah, Qatar - February 2, 2024 South Korea players celebrate after the match REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani/File Photo

DOHA (Reuters) - South Korea and Jordan are both prepared for their Asian Cup semi-final to go the distance if required with extra time and penalties, the two teams' coaches said on Monday after they played out a thrilling 2-2 draw in the group stage.

Although Hussein Ammouta's Jordan reached the semi-finals with wins over Iraq and debutants Tajikistan in normal time, South Korea have had a bruising journey to the last four against Asian heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Australia.

Juergen Klinsmann's side needed a penalty shootout to beat Saudi Arabia before forcing extra time against Australia in the quarter-finals, playing 120 minutes on both occasions compared to a well-rested Jordan.

"The willingness to suffer, to go to the end if it's needed - 120 minutes, penalty shootout - we are prepared for that," Klinsmann told reporters.

"There are many, many factors that are important in order to go far in the tournament and we prepared well. We started in Seoul on Dec. 26 to build fitness and we have only two injuries now. We are extremely hungry.

"It's the physical and mental side, but it's also the spirit of the group... It's a marathon and we're nearing the end of the marathon. Hopefully we can win it all."

South Korea advanced after they forced extra time in both their knockout games with stoppage-time goals and Ammouta praised their resilience.

"It's true that South Korea have great potential in terms of mental, technical and tactical preparedness. We've seen this in different games - the control, possession and quick movement of the ball," he said.

"I hope we've reached the point to put in a good performance, especially in the final minutes of the game. Saudi Arabia and Australia were ahead and they made mistakes at the end.

"Our focus has to be strong and it's going to be tiring. This is necessary, we will have to struggle."

Ammouta added that fatigue would not be a factor in Tuesday's semi-final because South Korea showed how well they coped with going to extra time in two consecutive games.

"Despite playing 120 minutes twice everyone knows the value of South Korea at an individual and collective level. Playing 120 minutes means they're in good shape," the Moroccan coach said.

"They're professional players, they can easily recover physically and mentally in 48 hours. I don't think playing 120 minutes will make a difference in tomorrow's game."

While Jordan are playing in their first semi-final, South Korea are looking to advance and end a 64-year trophy drought in the Asian Cup.

Klinsmann, who has won titles as a player and a coach, had some simple advice for his players.

"Just stay relaxed look forward to it, eliminate all the things that are not important right now," the German said.

"This group of players is experienced, they are so motivated. They are so positive that they just want to go all the way to the final and prove themselves."

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Doha; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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