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By ESPN Staff
Jan 13, 2011

Lee: Midfield battle will be crucial

Bolton winger Lee Chung-Yong believes whoever wins the midfield battle will emerge triumphant when South Korea take on Australia in a pivotal Asian Cup Group C game at Al Gharafa Stadium on Friday afternoon.

Both sides are among the favourites to lift Asia's most prestigious title and, with both having collected three points from their opening games, Friday's winner will likely win the group and, in theory, secure an easier quarter-final tie.

"Both teams are after the top position in the group so I expect a tough game,'' said Lee. "I think to beat Australia, we need to control the midfield area to build up the game. Australia are also dangerous down the flanks so the full-backs and the wingers need to stop them.''

Korean coach Cho Kwang-Rae, who is without suspended defender Kwak Tae-Hwi for the encounter, agreed with Lee's analysis.

"It is the most important game of the group and it depends which team controls the game as to who will get the result,'' he said. "We will prepare for set-pieces, we are shorter than the Australian guys but it is important to get the right timing and position when defending.

"I believe they are well organised in defence, when they attack they switch the play well and they have good players who can deliver dangerous crosses but we're prepared and I believe the players will do a very good job.''

Australia coach Holger Osieck dismissed suggestions his ageing side would struggle to cope with the Koreans' pace.

"If it's a problem, we'll see, but I'm not concerned with age, I'd rather have a performance. That's what matters to me,'' said the German. "It's always a special challenge for either team when they clash.

"You want to prove who is doing better and I'm pretty sure Korea have the same ambition but we definitely want to prove that we will be the better team. It's going to be a very good and interesting game. Korea are a strong team and we are a strong team so we will see who will be better on the day.

"It's no secret, we know about the individual strengths of the Korean team, we know about the individual quality of the players, we have our plan already but if I look at my team we have quality players as well. So it's going to be interesting as to who will be in the best form.''

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