SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea are steeling themselves for an attacking onslaught at Iran’s intimidating Azadi stadium when the sides meet in a 2014 World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.
The Koreans, who are seeking their first win in Iran, top Group A in the final round of Asian qualifiers with seven points from three games, with second-placed Iran three points behind.
South Korea coach Choi Kang-hee predicted Iran would take the game to his side in their last 2014 qualifier of the year.
“I expect them to come out attacking against us, and we’re all too familiar with their style of play,” he told Yonhap news agency. “We just have to capitalize on our strengths and be 100 percent ready for this game.”
South Korea, World Cup semi-finalists as co-hosts in 2002, beat Qatar and Lebanon before being held 2-2 in Uzbekistan last month. Qatar and Lebanon also have four points.
Choi enjoys a wealth of riches in attack, with Hamburg’s on-song striker Son Heung-min, recently linked with a move to English club Liverpool, set to lead the South Korean strikeforce.
”Son has been outstanding,“ Choi said of the forward, who has scored four goals in seven Bundesliga games this season. ”He and other players in Europe are all competent players.
“As long as they can stay fit, I am not too worried about them.”
Son is likely to be paired with Park Chu-young, who has rediscovered his form since moving from Arsenal to Spanish club Celta Vigo.
“If we can win this game, it will make the rest of the qualifying process so much easier,” said Choi. “If things go wrong, we could end up chasing other countries next year.”
South Korea are seeking to reach their eighth successive World Cup finals and ninth overall.
Reporting by Alastair Himmer in Tokyo; Editing by Peter Rutherford