Fatigue factor kicks in as Iraq take on South Korea

SYDNEY :  Asked on Thursday whether he would prefer to play Iran or Iraq in the last four of the Asian Cup, South Korea coach Uli Stielike said only that he hoped their quarter-final would go to extra time.     The German’s wish was granted, and Iraq will take on the South Koreans in the Sydney semi-final on Monday having prevailed on penalties after 120 minutes of tense, emotional and draining drama in Canberra.
In such a condensed tournament, where the eventual champions will have played six matches in as little as 19 days, an extra 24 hours here and there to prepare for a match can be vital.
Iraq coach Radhi Shenaishil said he was racing against time to get his players back into game shape.     ‘Our main goal now is recovery,’ Shenaishil said after yesterday’s victory over neighbours Iran. ‘We played four halves in this game and the main thing now is recovery ahead of the semi-final.
‘I think teams like Korea Republic and Australia are teams that are here to win the Asian Cup. But the four teams in the semi-finals all have the same chance to get to the  final.
‘There is a lot of history with Korea and there are a lot of positive results for Iraq against Korea.’     Most prominent in that history is their 2007 semi-final, which Iraq won 4-3 on penalties to continue their fairytale ride to the Asian Cup final.
Four days later in Jakarta, Younus Mahmood headed the winner against Saudi Arabia to give the Iraqis their first Asian title.


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