KARACHI: Pakistan would have an edge over South Korea when they clash in the Asia Cup semi-final on Friday, former captain Islahuddin Siddiqui said on Thursday.
“Pakistan are playing well at the moment. They hold better international ranking than South Korea and are richer in experience as compared to Korea,” Islah said in an interview.
However, the former Olympian made it clear that Mohammad Imran-led Pakistan would have to produce their best, avoid missing and display their natural game to reach the Asia Cup final.
Defending champions Korea defeated Pakistan 1-0 in the last edition of the Asian Cup at Kuantan, Malaysia.
“The Koreans are quick-footed and can trouble Pakistan’s defence line,” Islahuddin, who was manager-cum-coach when Pakistan beat India 3-1 in the final at New Delhi in 1989, pointed out.
“Even slight complacency, missing or weakness in defence could prove fatal,” he warned.
He said the Korean team, because of their super fitness, could put Pakistan defence under pressure.
“Our mid-fielders should display a strong game because swift-moving Korean forwards can prove dangerous if not checked properly by Pakistan,” he said.
Meanwhile, Olympian Salim Sherwani was of the view that the way Pakistan beat Malaysia, it showed the green-shirts were in the right frame of mind.
“Barring any major blunder, Pakistan are favourites to reach the final,” he predicted.
Forward Sherwani, who was a member of Pakistan’s Los Angles Olympics gold medal-winning team in 1984, said experienced campaigner Shakeel Abbasi and Shafqat Rasool must click in Friday’s game.
Former international Jan Mohammad, who played back-to-back Champions Trophy tournaments in 1980 and 1981, also rated Pakistan’s chances bright against Korea.
“This will be the biggest test for Pakistan team after they recorded overwhelming wins in the three pool matches,” he remarked.
Pakistan’s defence line as well as forwards must play to their potential if they wanted to make the final, he added.
“The team is in good rhythm, momentum and must maintain it to win the semi-final,” Jan said.
Korea holds better track record against Pakistan
South Korea have a good statistical record against three-time champions Pakistan in the Asia Cup
Out of the six meetings between two leading Asian teams, Korea won three matches while Pakistan emerged winners on two occasions while one game ended in a stalemate.
According to the data prepared by Abdul Aziz Khan, Pakistan thrashed Korea 7-0 in their opening meeting in the second Asia Cup held at Dhaka’s National Stadium in 1985.
Both teams then played a 3-3 draw in the 1989 Asia Cup in New Delhi, India.In the fourth Asia Cup held in Hiroshima, Japan, Korea hammered Pakistan 4-0 in the semi-final.
In 1999, in the fifth Asia Cup held in 1999 at Kuala Lumpur, Pakistan defeated Korea 1-0 in the league round. But Korea took revenge in the final edging out Pakistan 5-4 to claim their first Asian crown.
In the Malaysian city of Kuantan, Korea overpowered Pakistan 1-0 in the eighth Asia Cup to win their second title.
-Contributions by APP.