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Korea captain ashamed over title drought

30 Jan 2015, 15:56

South Korean football team captain Ki Sung Yueng

South Korea skipper Ki Sung-Yueng has spoken of his "shame" at the country's failure to lift the Asian Cup for 55 years as they prepare for Saturday's final against hosts Australia.

"It's been too long for Korea to be champions," the Swansea City midfielder told reporters on Friday. "I have had a big desire to win this competition because we always say Korea is one of the best teams in Asia.

"We always go to the World Cup, we reached the (World Cup) semi-finals (in 2002). But on the other hand, we haven't won the Asian Cup for so long. It's a bit weird." 

"There's little bit of shame for ourselves that we have never proved that we are the biggest team in Asia," he added. "This is a great opportunity for us to show people that we can be the champions."

Ki, appointed captain after last year's early World Cup exit when German Uli Stielike took over as coach, called on South Korea to follow their 1-0 group stage win over Australia by lifting the trophy for the first time since 1960.

South Korea won the first two editions of the regional championship but they are yet to add a third win, despite reaching the final in 1972, 1980 and 1988.

"We've had a lot of injuries during the tournament and we have a lot of young players lacking in experience," said Ki, who turned up the heat on the Socceroos by claiming all the pressure would be on the home side in front of a sell-out crowd of nearly 80,000 in Sydney.

"I don't think people in Korea expected that we'd reach the final. Of course there is some pressure but we don't have anything to lose in this game so maybe Australia have more pressure than us. 

"I told the players it's a great opportunity, maybe once in a lifetime, to become Asian Cup champions. Everyone is fully motivated."

Despite losing influential pair Lee Chung-Yong and Koo Ja-Cheol, South Korea have reached their first Asian Cup final in 27 years -- with clean sheets in all five games -- and they will be desperate to end their wait for the title.

Perhaps indulging in some late mind games, Stielike claimed he did not know which South Korea would turn up for the final.

"I don't know how we will go out onto the pitch," shrugged the German. "We have a lot of young players, and it's the first time they will be in a big final, a big event like this with 80,000 people so I don't know what the reaction will be.

"If we can play with calm and with conviction then we will have every possibility of winning the game -- but this will be the main point, how strong our mentality is."