South Korea coach wary of underestimating India
Although India is the lowest ranked team at the Asian Cup and has conceded nine goals in two games so far, South Korea coach Kwang Rae-cho is fretting about Tuesday's final group match.
After beating Bahrain and drawing with Australia, the 2002 World Cup semifinalist South Koreans, described by India captain Baichung Bhutia as the ''Manchester United of Asia,'' need a win to guarantee their progress to the quarterfinals.
''If you go through any tournament there will always be a difficult point,'' Kwang said Monday. ''Tomorrow's game is much more important than the first two and will be a turning point for the team.
''We should not underestimate the Indian team. If we start to do that it will be a very big problem for us. That's why I'm concerned.''
An added complication for South Korea is that goal difference could decide who finishes at the top in Group C between Australia and South Korea.
The Socceroos beat India 4-0, so depending on their result against Bahrain, South Korea may need to win by five goals or more to finish above Australia.
''I'm sure most teams are desperate to be the No. 1 in the group,'' Kwang said. ''But I believe if we start focusing on scoring many goals too much, that will be another problem for the team. The most important thing is to play like normal, as we did the last two games.''
Finishing at the top will likely mean avoiding three-time champion Iran, but it could mean a quarterfinal match against North Korea.
''I think they're a good team,'' Kwang said when asked about North Korea. ''Recently they've showed they have enough skill to threaten the opponent, but currently they have only one point, so I hope they get better.''
India qualified for the Asian Cup for the first time since 1984 by winning last year's AFC Challenge Cup, a tournament for emerging nations.
The team's English coach, Bob Houghton, has stressed from the start that this tournament has been about gaining experience.
''We're in a very difficult group, but we are walking with our heads held high,'' Houghton said. ''Although we have lost both games, we feel we've given a good account of ourselves.''
Houghton said he hoped the influential Bhutia would be able to come off the bench in Tuesday's game. The 34-year-old captain, who has scored 43 goals in 108 appearances, sat out the first two games and is expected to retire from international football after the tournament.