(IranSportsPress.com-Yonhab News Agency)- South Korean football icon Park Ji-sung said Thursday that the national team players should overcome World Cup qualifying pressure to earn good results in upcoming matches.
South Korea, led by head coach Shin Tae-yong, will host Iran on Aug. 31 and take on Uzbekistan five days later on the road in their final World Cup qualifying campaign. Both are considered must-win matches for the Taeguk Warriors, who are barely holding on to the last automatic qualification spot in Group A in the final Asian qualifying round.
Park, former national team captain who retired from the game in 2014, said South Korean players need to handle the big pressure of World Cup qualification. South Korea are looking for their ninth consecutive World Cup appearance.
“In this situation, the players will feel heavy pressure,” Park said in an interview conducted by the Korea Football Association (KFA). “But if they’re national team players, they need to overcome the pressure and show their abilities.”
South Korea can clinch a World Cup spot if they beat Iran at home and Uzbekistan lose to China on the same day. However, the national team hasn’t beaten the Iranians since 2011.
Park, who scored 13 goals in 100 matches for South Korea, admitted that Iran are not easy opponents. Iran have already qualified for the World Cup in Russia after clinching the top spot in the group.
“Iran is in Asia, but the players’ physiques are more like Europeans,” he said. “They play rough and powerful football, so that’s why opponents have a hard time.”
The former Manchester United midfielder, one of the core members of the 2002 World Cup South Korean team that made it to the semifinals, also asked for more support from fans.
“Football fans can criticize the national team considering the results and performances that it showed, and the players are not free from this situation,” he said. “However, I hope fans can cheer for our national team and give them support at least in those two matches.”