Japan, South Korea to add new chapter to rivalry
DOHA - Agence France-Presse | 1/24/2011 12:00:00 AM |
With Japan facing traditional rival South Korea in the Asian Cup semifinals on Tuesday, coach Alberto Zaccheroni is trying to keep his players' motivation under control
With Japan facing traditional rival South Korea in the Asian Cup semifinals on Tuesday, coach Alberto Zaccheroni is trying to keep his players' motivation under control.
The experienced Italian coach believes too much motivation might increase tension among Japan players, who are seeking to win a record fourth Asian Cup title and are already well aware of the stakes.
Zaccheroni expects a tight match between very similar teams, and thinks it will be decided by small details.
South Korea is also trying to play down the loaded history of the two sides that have five Asian titles and 12 semifinal appearances between them.
"I don't want to focus too much on the background between Japan and South Korea," South Korea midfielder Koo Ja-cheol said Monday, one day before the semifinal.
"It's always something special, but it's just a game before the final and it won't make a big difference to us," said Koo, who leads the tournament's scoring table with four goals.
Japan midfielder Makoto Hasebe also didn't want to dwell on the past.
"I don't need to speak about it a lot, you know the history and the relationship of the two teams. We'll play with pride in tomorrow's match," Hasebe said. "I want to be the champion here and that's more important than beating South Korea."
For Zaccheroni, Japan vs. South Korea is the Asian version of Brazil vs. Argentina or Italy vs. Germany, the classic South American and European showdowns.
"I don't know about South Korea, but for me yes, it's like those rivalries," the former Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan coach said.