For nations like Japan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Korea and now Australia, the Asian Cup is second only to the World Cup in importance and not only that, it is the one major competition that is, at present, winnable for such teams.
The Taeguk Warriors haven’t done so for 47 years – and, ten months after taking his place in the hotseat in Seoul, South Korean coach Pim Verbeek is determined to end that drought. However, the Dutchman feels that the people involved in Korean football are not all pulling in the same direction.
With less than four weeks until the Asian Cup begins, the K-League is still going at full pelt. Korea’s 14 clubs will play their last games before the summer break on June 23 and the midweek Hauzen Cup will come to an end four days later – just nine days before the national team leaves for Indonesia and Group D matches with the co-hosts, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
Verbeek believes the late finish as well as the hectic domestic schedule with games every weekend and Wednesday since the season began in March will harm Korea’s chances in Indonesia.
“As far as I can see, in less than three months time there have been 22 games – which is impossible. Players are tired, the coaches can’t train and have no time to improve the team and because of that. I have no preparation,” Verbeek told Soccerphile.
A congested fixture list is not unique to Korea. England is well-known for the amount of games played – the English season has already accounted for Park Ji-sung, Lee Young-pyo and Seol Ki-hyeon, all three of which are likely to miss the Asian Cup through injury but according to Verbeek, the situation is not the …