South Korea and Japan, which are considered strong favorites to win the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup, have been raised the possibility of a clash from the round of 16.
Attention is also focusing on the showdown between ace Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain) and Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad), who were born in 2001.
Japan defeated Indonesia 3-1 in the third and final Group D match held at Altumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Monday (Korea time). Japan advanced to the round of 16 by ranking second in the group after Iraq (nine points) with two wins, one loss and six points.
Japan, which is ranked 17th in the FIFA rankings, the highest in Asia, is considered a strong candidate for the upcoming championship with Korea, which is ranked 23rd. It boasts powerful capabilities, with as many as 20 players from overseas including Kubo.
Korea is also showing strong performance in countering this. Korea is challenging for the top spot for the first time in 64 years since the 1960 World Cup, and critics say that this is the right time for Korea to win the title, given that Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur), Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich) and Lee Kang-in are playing in major European clubs.
Japan, which advanced to the round of 16 as the second-ranked player in Group D, will have a showdown with the first-ranked player in Group E. If Korea, which is currently the second-ranked in Group E, takes the top spot, it will have a showdown with Japan in the round of 16.
Korea has the same score point as Jordan at four, but is in second place in goal difference. However, Korea can also rank No. 1 in Group E of the competition to be held at the Al-Zanub Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Saturday if it secures a multi-score victory over Malaysia in its third and final match.
The Kubo mentioned the match between Korea and Japan before the tournament. In particular, he drew attention by showing expectations for a showdown with his “best friend” Lee Kang-in.
In their respective teams, the two players have already met in the round of 16 strongest teams of the UEFA Champions League. Coincidentally, they will have a showdown right after the Asian Cup ends. The first round match of the round of 16 strongest teams between Paris Saint-Germain and Real Sociedad, which will be held at home and away, will take place on March 15.
Gubo, who will meet Lee Kang-in at the Asian Cup, joked that if he wins the Asian Cup final and wins, it would be okay to tie the first round (of the UCL round of 16), adding, “I think it would be okay to concede (to Lee Kang-in) at least in the first round.” He is determined not to concede to Lee as much as the victory in the match between Korea and Japan.
However, as there was a possibility of a showdown with South Korea starting from the round of 16, he declined to comment this time. “Korea still has one game left,” said Gubo, who met at the mixed zone after the match, “I think we need to think about it after tomorrow’s game.” 헤라카지노주소
Jürgen Klinsmann, the head coach of the Korean national team, said ahead of the match against Malaysia, “We will prove that we deserve to win and be ranked No. 1 in the group.” It remains to be seen whether Korea will rise to the top of the group and face Japan in the round of 16.