Coach Uli Stielike insists Korea Republic must work hard to avoid becoming another high-profile casualty at the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 ahead of Monday’s semi-final with fellow former winners Iraq at Stadium Australia.
Two-time champions Korea were the first side to secure their place in the semi-finals after beating Uzbekistan 2-0 after extra-time on Thursday, their fourth consecutive win of the campaign without conceding a goal.
But with defending champions Japan and Asia’s number one ranked side Iran knocked out in the quarter-finals, 1956 and 1960 champions Korea now find themselves the highest ranked side remaining in the tournament.
“We had the rankings before the tournament as Iran first, Japan second, Korea third and Uzbekistan fourth, and now we only have Korea out of the four top seeds left in the tournament. If we don’t want a surprise we have to work hard,” said Stielike, who was appointed Korea coach in September.
“We are working to bring Korea back to the top rank in AFC and to go forward in the world rankings. We are 69th and we can’t be happy about this position, but you can only go forward with victories and victories can only come from good performances.
“We have to accept that role as favourites as we are coming here in third place in the AFC rankings, Iraq are 13, so I think there is no discussion that we have to accept this role, but we also know we have to play the champion of 2007. It is history, but we have to be careful.”