Korea coach wary of upstart Indonesia at Olympic football qualifiers

Korean players congratulate Kim Min-woo, second from left, after Kim scored against Japan during the teams' Group B match at the Asian Football Confederation U-23 Asian Cup at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, April 22. AFP-Yonhap

On paper, Korea should have little trouble handling Indonesia when they clash in the first knockout match of the Olympic men’s football qualifying tournament later this week in Qatar.But Korea head coach Hwang Sun-hong understands football is played on the pitch, not on paper. He wants his players to be on their toes Thursday night when the two countries square off in the quarterfinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Asian Cup.That Indonesia are coached by former Korea boss Shin Tae-yong will only add to the intrigue.This meeting was set up after Korea defeated Japan 1-0 Monday afternoon to clinch the top seed in Group B with nine points. Indonesia had secured the runner-up spot out of Group A on Sunday by beating Jordan 4-1, their second win in the group phase.

This AFC tournament doubles as the Asian qualifiers for the Paris Olympics. The top three teams — the two finalists and the winner of the third-place match — will grab their tickets to France, while the fourth-place team will fall to an intercontinental playoff against Guinea.The quarterfinals showdown, then, is a must-win match for both teams. Korea will try to extend their Olympic appearance streak to 10, while Indonesia will eye a return to the quadrennial competition for the first time since 1956. Hwang thanked his players for executing their game plan against Japan but otherwise didn’t see much cause for celebration yet.”The real competition begins now, and we have to be prepared against Indonesia,” Hwang said at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Al Rayyan, west of Doha. “They won’t be an easy team to play against, and we have to work really hard to accomplish our goal.”Midfielder Kim Min-woo, who scored the 75th-minute winner against Japan, offered an early scouting report on Indonesia.”Their players are energetic, and they cover a lot of ground,” he said. “They can make some quick 슬롯게이밍 one-two passes.”

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