Stielike says S. Korea should not settle for draw in Mexico match

August 9, 2016

Uli Stielike, the head coach of the South Korean senior national football squad, said Tuesday the Olympic football team should not settle for a draw against Mexico.

South Korea will face Mexico at Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia on Wednesday (local time) for their last Group C men’s football match at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. South Korea lead the group with four points after beating Fiji 8-0 last Thursday and having a 3-3 draw with Germany on Sunday.

Mexico, the 2012 Olympic champions, also have four points, but South Korea holds the tiebreaker edge in goal difference, plus-8 to plus-4.

Assuming that Germany will easily beat Fiji, regarded as the weakest team in the group, South Korea can advance to the quarterfinals with a victory over Mexico and even with a draw since they will finish no worse than second in the group.

Stielike, however, said South Korean players should get rid of thoughts of collecting a draw, just like their coach Shin Tae-young had emphasized before. Shin is also an assistant to Stielike in the senior men’s national football team.

“For Mexico, the match against South Korea will be important like the final,” Stielike said through the Korea Football Association. “Mexico will feel pressured that they must beat South Korea. Shin’s side should take advantage of this.”

Stielike said he watched the match between South Korea and Germany and it’s a pity that the young Taeguk Warriors blew a late lead to be held to a 3-3 draw by the European nation. The 61-year-old German previously said he will cheer for South Korea over his home country when two sides meet.

“I first want to praise the players who scored three goals against Germany and almost collected a victory,” he said. “But compared to the match against Fiji, their ball possession and pass success rate were not good. An important task for South Korean football is that the team should be able to control the game even if they face strong opponents.”

Against Germany, South Korea’s star forward Son Heung-in scored the team’s second goal with his explosive dribbling and made the score 2-2. Stielike was pleased with the Tottenham Hotspur attacker’s performance.

“Among forwards, I think Son made the most touches on the ball,” he said. “He is definitely the most dangerous player on the pitch. Against Germany, Son showed his experience in Europe can be a big help to South Korea on the international stage.”

Stielike said he was also impressed by the 20-year-old striker Hwang Hee-chan who scored South Korea’s first goal against Germany. Hwang, who plays with Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, has yet to play with the senior squad.

“I knew he was a good player, but his performance in two Olympic matches was better than his reputation,” he said. “I’m watching him with expectations.”

In this file photo taken on June 7, 2016, South Korean men's national football team coach Uli Stielike speaks to reporters at Incheon International Airport.

In this file photo taken on June 7, 2016, South Korean men’s national football team coach Uli Stielike speaks to reporters at Incheon International Airport.