Al Ain, January 11: Paulo Bento has called on South Korea to adopt a proactive approach against Kyrgyzstan as they aim to stamp their authority on Group C at the Asian Cup.
Considered among the favourites to lift the trophy, South Korea laboured to a narrow 1-0 win over Philippines in their opening match of the tournament on Monday (January 7).
Friday's date with Kyrgyzstan in Al Ain presents another opportunity to sound a warning and Bento, who will be without Newcastle United midfielder Ki Sung-yueng due to a hamstring strain, wants his team to make the running.
Holstein Kiel's Lee Jae-sung, a starter against Philippines, is also in doubt, increasing the burden on Hwang Hee-chan, Hwang Ui-jo and Koo Ja-cheol to find fluency going forward.
"There are two teams here with different points but we come into this match with an advantage as we won our opening game," Bento said.
"We will try to do our best to qualify for the next phase of the competition but it will be a tough game against [Kyrgyzstan], who will try to defend as much as possible and deploy counter-attacking strategies.
"We will try to attack as much as possible to collect the three points.
"Our idea is the same as the previous match, which is to control and win the game through our attacking style of play."
Victory for South Korea could well curtail Kyrgyzstan's chances of advancing to the next phase after they gave up a first-half advantage on the way to a 2-1 defeat against China last time out.
Head coach Alexsandr Krestinin is at ease with the heightened pressure, believing he has spotted vulnerabilities in his team's more illustrious opponents.
"We have analysed the way Philippines played against Korea as well as other games but we can't play like that [on Friday]," Krestinin said.
"We have another way to play against them. We know the weakness of the Korean team as we've studied them well. There are no teams without weaknesses."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kyrgyzstan - Pavel Matiash
Krestinin is sure to demand an improved showing from goalkeeper Matiash following his two costly errors against China. At 31, the gloveman has the experience to bounce back and a return to form is essential if Kyrgyzstan are to snatch a result.
South Korea - Hwang Ui-jo
The Gamba Osaka striker is enjoying a rich vein of form in the early part of his national team career. The 26-year-old cemented his status as Bento's preferred centre-forward with the lone goal against Philippines, one of four he has scored in his past six international appearances.
KEY OPTA FACTS
- This will be the first encounter between Kyrgyzstan and South Korea at the Asian Cup.
- Kyrgyzstan have lost three of their last five international matches (W2), more than in their previous 10 (W6 D2 L2).
- South Korea are unbeaten in each of their last eight group-stage matches at the Asian Cup (W7 D1) and have won the last five in row.
- Kyrgyzstan are aiming to avoid what would be back-to-back defeats for the first time since August 2017, when they lost 1-0 to India and 5-0 to Uzbekistan.
- South Korea have kept four successive clean sheets in the group stage of the Asian Cup. They have never recorded five in a row in this phase of the competition.
Kyrgyzstan vs South Korea
Friday, January 11
Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium
Match starts at 8 PM Local Time (9.30 PM IST)
Live on Star Sports 3
Streams via HotStar