“Nice, nice, nice!”
Head coach Jürgen Klinsmann’s gruff voice echoed through the Al Eglah Training Center in Doha, Qatar. The team was in its final warm-up ahead of its quarterfinal match against Australia at 10 p.m. ET on Jan. 1, less than 24 hours away.
The mood and momentum were high. South Korea had just secured a dramatic theater win over Saudi Arabia in the Round of 16 on March 31. After conceding an early goal, the South Koreans were unable to find an equalizer until the final minute of stoppage time and faced the prospect of an early exit. In the ninth minute of stoppage time, 온라인카지노 Cho Kyu-sung received a header from Seol Young-woo and rattled the post with his head. South Korea, who were on the brink, extended the game with this goal and won 4-2 in penalty kicks.
The players gathered at the training center and warmed up according to their routine. Moon Sun-min, who had stayed in a hotel the day before due to a hamstring injury, joined the team to complete the 26-man squad.
Kim Young-kwon, Kim Jin-soo, and Kim Tae-hwan warmed up on bicycles. After gathering together, they went for a lap around the field. Hwang Hee-chan greeted the press with a “hello” and a smile.
The team then split into three groups to play passing games. Kim Jin-soo, Jung Woo-young, Lee Jae-sung, Park Yong-woo, Son Heung-min, Lee Ki-je, and Kim Tae-hwan formed a group and passed the ball with their heads. When the ball was not dropped and the rally continued, Coach Klinsmann clapped and shouted “Nice, nice, nice” to encourage the players. Hwang Hee-chan, Kim Min-jae, Hwang In-beom, Park Jin-seop, Lee Soon-min, Cho Kyu-sung, and Jeong Seung-hyun also joined the fray.
The Round of 16 victory in a ‘cliffhanger’ match has had a ‘positive impact’ on South Korea. “I think the game against Saudi Arabia gave us a chance to come together as a team,” said Son Heung-min. It gave the players an impetus to play a step further.”
However, Australia is not an easy opponent. They have the physical advantage and a solid defense that has conceded just one goal in four games. “We’ve only conceded one goal in four games,” said Australian head coach Graham Arnold. South Korea have conceded seven goals, so we’ll be looking to capitalize on that.”
The team is also “confident” with two extra days of rest. “That’s the biggest advantage,” Arnold said. We recharged our bodies and minds. Everyone is in a good frame of mind.”
Klinsmann was adamant that the shortened term was not a problem: “I don’t want to talk about rest days anymore. It’s something that every player has to deal with when they come to a tournament like this. That’s the beauty of the tournament.”