The national soccer team, which is aiming for the first Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup championship in 63 years, received a relatively easy grouping. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann seems to be showing satisfaction, saying, “It will be fun” after the group formation is over. However, it is a burden for him to meet Malaysia coach Kim Pan-gon, who knows the national team.
As a result of the draw for the Asian Cup group held at the Katara Opera House in Doha, Qatar on the 11th, the national team was placed in Group E along with Jordan, Bahrain and Malaysia. For Korea, which is ranked 27th in the FIFA rankings, Jordan, 84th, Bahrain, 85th, and Malaysia, 138th, are not difficult opponents.
In particular, in the group formation on this day, the national team was able to lead the tournament advantageously by meeting the most passable opponent among pot 2. Pot 2 included formidable teams such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iraq, while China and Jordan, which were weak against the national team, were also included. China is an opponent with 2 wins, 13 draws and 21 losses against the national team, and Jordan is also a weak player with 2 draws and 3 losses without a win against the national team. Among them, as they were placed in the same group as Jordan, the national team was relieved of a great burden.
The match I am most interested in is the match against Malaysia led by coach Kim Pan-gon. Coach Pan-gon Kim is a person who served as the head of the National Team Power Enhancement Committee at the Korea Football Association in 2018, and it is evaluated that he knows closely about Korean football. While coach Kim Pan-gon served as the chairman, the national team made great achievements, such as appointing former national team coach Paulo Bento and women’s soccer team coach Colin Bell.
In addition, coach Kim Pan-gon led Malaysia and put the team in the Asian Cup finals for the first time in 43 years. Also, in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Misvisi Cup (formerly Suzuki Cup), called the Southeast Asian World Cup last year, it unfortunately bowed its head to Vietnam, but caused a sensation.
Korean soccer is regarded as the strongest in Asia, but it has shown a particularly weak appearance in this competition, such as failing to stand at the top after winning the 2nd Asian Cup in 1960. The national team, which advanced to the round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, is challenging to conquer the Asian Cup with coach Klinsman.
In the group draw event, Park Ji-sung, director of Jeonbuk Hyundai, a “world star” born in Korean football, Hassan Al-Hhaidos, captain of Qatar, the 2019 champion and host of the tournament, and Serber Zefarov (Uzbekistan), who was selected as the AFC Player of the Year twice, , Australia’s football’s pride team, Cahill, attended together and acted as a lottery. Head coaches from 24 participating countries, including coach Klinsman, also attended the group draw ceremony.
Coach Klinsman greeted through a relay video after the group draw was over, saying, “Thank you for the welcome, and I will learn a little more about the opposing teams,” and “I will play in a great competition.”
From the 12th, coach Klinsman and others will look around the stadiums and training grounds to start thinking about the Asian Cup. Afterwards, coach Klinsman returned to Korea and started working on the national team in earnest.
The opening game of the Asian Cup will kick off on January 12, 2024 with a Group A match between hosts Qatar and Lebanon.
Reporter Jeong Pil-jae [email protected]
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