Sven-Goran Eriksson promises Philippines will give South Korea 'a fight' at the Asian Cup
Swedish manager backs his players to step up to the occasion in Dubai against the two-time champions
Sven-Goran Eriksson has backed his Philippines side to cause South Korea trouble in their Group C clash at the 2019 Asian Cup on Monday.
The Philippines are making their debut at the tournament and on paper face a tough task against a side who have twice won the title twice and were runners-up four years ago to Australia.
Korea also played at the World Cup in Russia last summer, and even though they were knocked out in the group stages were still able to defeat defending champions Germany in their final game.
But Eriksson, who took over as Philippines manager on a six-month deal in October, is confident that his players will not be overawed by the occasion and will give a good account of themselves at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai.
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"We worked a lot on the plays and I’m sure of one thing, they are going out tomorrow, the players – the 11 starting and the eventual players coming on – they are going give Korea a fight," the former England manager said at a news conference on Sunday.
Eriksson said before the tournament that his hope from the Philippines competing against the best sides on the continent was to increase interest in the national side, and football in general, within the Filipino population.
"Korea is a big team that’s for sure, but Philippines is a big team as well, it’s a big country. You will see tomorrow," Eriksson added.
Midfielder Stephen Schrock echoed his manager's view that he and his teammates were aware they are underdogs but could use results such as Jordan's shock win over defending champions Australia on Sunday as motivation to cause an upset.
"It would be a tough game for us, but we have been in football for very long and there are surprises everywhere, and we’re willing to give everyone a headache in this group for sure."
Korea, who last failed to make it out of the group stages of an Asian Cup in 1984, will be without Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min for the match.
The forward is not joining the squad until after Sunday's Premier League clash between Tottenham and Manchester United, which means he will also miss his national side's second Group C match against Kyrgyzstan in Al Ain at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.
Monday's other Group C match sees China go up against Kyrgyzstan at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain.
Also in action is the first game in Group D, which sees Iran go up against Yemen at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Updated: January 7, 2019 07:53 AM