South Korea may have already booked their spot in the next round of Asia World Cup qualifying, but head coach Uli Stielike will allow no complacency against Lebanon on Thursday.
With six wins from as many Group G matches, South Korea welcome Lebanon to the Ansan Wa Stadium with little to play for aside from maintaining their 100 per cent record in the pool.
The qualifier against Lebanon, ranked 88 places below South Korea in the official FIFA World Ranking, comes just three days before a friendly encounter against Thailand – which replaced their final qualifier against Kuwait, who remain suspended from FIFA due to government interference with the nation’s Football Association.
While the outcome of both matches may be immaterial on paper, Stielike urged South Korea to turn on the style to protect a 13-match unbeaten run.
“These matches could have no meaning since we have already advanced to the final round of the qualification,” Stielike told a news conference. “However, we have been playing great since last year, and I don’t want to ruin that milestone by not playing well in upcoming matches.”
Stielike is set to give some of his European-based stars such as Kim Jin-su (Hoffenheim), Park Joo-ho (Borussia Dortmund) and Lee Chung-yong (Crystal Palace) the opportunity to impress despite limited game time with their clubs.
But the German coach is also keeping tabs on those plying their trade in the K-League for the next round of internationals in June.
“I have given them [European-based players] an opportunity,” he added. “I will see how they perform in answer to my call-up. For the next call-up, we have about two months left. Until then, I will search for players in the K League who have talent to be on the national team.”
There is plenty riding on the match for a Lebanon side that sit third in Group G as they eye one of the four best runners-up spots to make it through to round three of qualifying.
Miodrag Radulovic’s men lost the reverse fixture 3-0, while Lebanon’s last win over South Korea came back in November 2011.
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