KAZAN, Russia (Reuters) - South Korea are going to rely on maximum effort and the unpredictability of football when they look to stage an upset of defending champions Germany on Wednesday that could extend their stay at the World Cup.
Remarkably, Korean hopes of reaching the round of 16 are still alive despite losses in their first two matches but they must beat Germany by two goals and hope Mexico beat Sweden in Wednesday’s other Group F match.
Coach Shin Tae-yong was realistic about the chances of his team pulling off the feat but said they would take confidence from the fact that the Germans had also made a disappointing start to their campaign in Russia.
“To be honest, Germany are a lot stronger than us and it won’t be easy,” he told a news conference.
“But the ball is round, anything can happen, and I believe there will be chances for us. Mexico beat Germany in their match so there is hope for us. Although it’s likely that Germany will have more possession, we will do our best.
“We must make it as difficult as possible for Germany to play their own game and instead of having too many thoughts in their heads, the players must play simply and accurately.
“It will be a last ditch effort.”
Shin said he had assumed in his planning that Germany would have already qualified by the time this fixture came around and the fact that the world champions still need a win would make them a much more difficult proposition.
His planning for the match has been further complicated by a calf injury ruling out midfielder Ki Sung-yueng, the South Korea captain joining full back Park Joo-ho (hamstring) in the treatment room.
“Ki and Park are very important to us, not just strategically but also mentally, they help the other players,” Shin added.
“Ki Sung-yueng is a pillar of our team. He is irreplaceable and the other players will have to make up for that loss.
“We will decide tomorrow who is the most stable psychologically, feeling the least pressure, and he will wear the captain’s armband.”
Forward Son Heung-min, South Korea’s most influential player, echoed his coach’s promise that the players would be unstinting in their efforts.
“There is a one percent chance, there is hope. We will not give up, we will do our utmost and whether we get to round of 16 or not, I think the Korean people will support us,” he said.
“It’s a fact, we cannot deny, Germany are much stronger than us but we have to have a mindset that we can do it. I believe we can do it...”
Editing by Christian Radnedge