Millennium Post

Strong defence makes South Korea favourites in final

Strong defence makes South Korea favourites in final
Known throughout his playing days as “The Stopper”, it’s unsurprising to see how German Uli Stielike has managed to organise his South Korea team. It has been 578 minutes since South Korea last conceded a goal. In the midst of that run has been an Asian Cup campaign in which Stielike’s side has a perfect defensive record, reports Xinhua.

Now, after a 2-0 victory over Iraq in the semi-finals, South Korea have the opportunity to complete a remarkable feat and win the Asian Cup without having their back four breached on a single occasion.

It’s a sequence made all the more impressive by the heavy rotations Stielike has made to his defence throughout the tournament. Four centre-halfs have been used across their five matches thus far, two right backs and two goalkeepers. Only their left-back Kim Jin-Su has started every one of their games going into the final. Therefore, it was fitting that he set up Lee Jeong-Hyeop’s early goal that ultimately went a long way to South Korea winning the match.

From game to game in the tournament, only between their final group match against Australia and their quarter-final against Uzbekistan has Stielike gone with an unchanged five-man unit at the back. Otherwise, rotations have been common, making their solidity and organisation a notable achievement. If defensive structure is the sign of a tight-knit squad, South Korea are a team growing in stature with each passing match and one that might be hitting their peak at the perfect time.
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