Asian Cup: Socceroos to meet South Korea in quarter-final

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The “energy” South Korea will get from its penalty-shootout win over Saudi Arabia will nullify the advantage the fresher Australia will have in Saturday morning’s Asian Cup quarter-final showdown.

That’s the belief of South Korea’s coach Jurgen Klinsmann, whose side equalised in the ninth minute of stoppage time against the Saudi Arabians on Wednesday morning before going on to prevail 4-2 in the shootout.

The Taegeuk Warriors’ win sets up a rematch of the 2015 Asian Cup final, which was won 2-1 in extra-time by the Socceroos at Stadium Australia.

The Australians will have the benefit of more than 48 hours of extra rest between after beating Indonesia 4-0 in a round-of-16 battle that finished soon after midnight (AEDT) on Monday morning.

Not that Klinsmann, a FIFA World Cup winner with Germany in 1990, is concerned.

“This win gives the team an enormous amount of energy, it gives the team even more spirit,” Klinsmann said.

“This is a group of players I enjoy so much working with because they badly want to do well for their country.

“We wanted to win the game badly before the penalty shoot-out. Anything can happen in a penalty shoot-out.

“We will recover. We have a good spirit and we’re looking forward to Australia, which is a good team that just won 4-0.”

The most recent meeting between the Socceroos and South Korea was a friendly international that took place in June, 2019 in Busan, with the Taegeuk Warriors prevailing 1-0 thanks to a goal from Hwang Ui-jo.

Three members of the current Socceroos squad – left-back Aziz Behich, striker Mitch Duke and winger Craig Goodwin – started for Australia in the defeat.

South Korea – whose team is captained by Tottenham skipper Son Heung-min – is currently ranked 23rd in the world, with the Socceroos close behind at 25.

Both nations reached the round-of-16 at the 2022 World Cup, which was also played in Qatar.

Australia lost 2-1 to eventual champions Argentina, while South Korea was beaten 4-1 by Brazil.

Socceroos defender Kye Rowles, who was also a part of Australia’s World Cup squad, said there was more of a “relaxed vibe” away from the training paddock and matches in the current camp compared to the World Cup, where the Australians’ base was Aspire Academy, a state-of-the-art sports facility.

This time in Doha, the Socceroos are staying at a large hotel, which has also allowed families of players to stay close by in a different part of the same resort.

“The set-up is a bit different this time here (in Qatar),” he said.

“I wouldn’t have changed a thing at the World Cup if you asked me if I would want to do it again, but to do something a little bit different it is good.”