Korea Republic and Manchester United star Park Ji-Sung has said that he is relishing a "special" AFC Asian Cup in what will almost certainly be his final regional championships.
If the Koreans are to win their first Asian Cup since 1960 they will need Park, one of the biggest names on show in Doha, to be at his very best. "It will be a very special Asian Cup for me," said captain Park, 29. "I do not have much time left in the international game. This makes me want to win the Asian Cup more than ever before."
The South Koreans are among the favourites, but will need to first safely negotiate their way through Group C, where they will likely battle Australia for top spot.
"They play a European style of football but we have many players who are based in Europe so we are not afraid of them," said Park, looking forward to the mouth-watering showdown with the Socceroos on 14 January.
Korea Republic begin their championship assault on Monday against Bahrain, followed by Australia four days later and India on 18 January. Coach Cho Kwang-Rae admitted it was high time Korea Republic won the Asian Cup again.
"I believe in all our 23 players," he said. "We all did our best to prepare for this competition in UAE (training camp). There is a lot of pressure on us because we didn't win this tournament in 51 years. This is also a big chance for us to win it."
However, the 2002 FIFA World Cup semi-finalists will have to do without key striker Park Chu-Young. Park, who played up front as the sole striker during last year's FIFA World Cup, hurt his knee while celebrating an injury-time winner for his French club Monaco against Sochaux on 23 December.