DOHA - Victory over Japan in their Asian
Cup semi-final would be the perfect gift for South Korean
captain Park Ji-sung on his 100th appearance for his country,
coach Cho Kwang-rae said on Monday.
Park is expected to reach the 100-cap milestone when his
side face three-times champions Japan in an eagerly anticipated
semi-final at the Al Gharafa Stadium on Tuesday.
"I would like to congratulate Park for 100 caps, and as a
gift I want to give him victory in tomorrow's match," Cho told
"Park Ji-sung is a player with outstanding leadership on and
off the pitch and he did an excellent job for his country so far
and I want him to continue his excellent career until the end of
the Asian Cup so he can win the trophy."
Park said prior to the tournament he would retire from
international football but when asked during it if that was
still the case, he would not confirm his intentions.
Cho will be hopeful he can convince the midfielder to stay
The 29-year-old has been at the centre of his side's
impressive displays in reaching the last four and his team mate
Koo Ja-cheol revealed his importance to the Korean team as they
try and win their third Asian title and first for 51 years.
"I am very proud of him. I'm playing with one of the best
players in the world," said Koo, the tournament's joint-top
scorer with four goals.
"He gives us advice on and off the pitch and makes the young
players like me very comfortable through his excellent
leadership of the team."
Tuesday's opponents Japan, however, will mark a step-up in
class for the Koreans as the Blue Samurai have scored 11 goals,
the most in the tournament, displaying a similar attractive,
Japan's Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni said he had given
his squad a day off on Sunday so they could refresh after
finishing two matches with 10-men en route to the last four.
"So far we played four matches and the two matches we played
with the 10 men so mentally the players looked very exhausted
and also we are in Qatar for 20 days already and not having any
days off," Zaccheroni explained.
"Physically it is important but also mentally it is very
effective when we have a tight match so I gave the players a
break for their mental wellbeing."
The two East Asian rivals will be have to make alterations
to their defensive line because of suspensions with Japan
missing Mayo Yoshida and Lee Jung-Soo out for South Korea.
Uzbekistan will face Australia, both making their first
appearance in the last four, in the second semi-final at the
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