Japan ready for Korea Republic test
© AFP

Three-time champions Japan are bracing themselves for a tough semi-final with Korea Republic at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.

The South Koreans edged Iran 1-0 yesterday, thanks to a 105th-minute winner from substitute Yoon Bit-Garam, to book a last-four clash with the Blue Samurai, who struggled past hosts Qatar 3-2 in their quarter-final.

"We had hoped to play South Korea in the final. We have seen them as opponents we must fight at one stage," said Japan captain Makoto Hasebe. "I think South Korea played better than Iran. I could feel the mental strength of their players. We want to prepare ourselves so we won't be outdone mentally."

I think South Korea played better than Iran. I could feel the mental strength of their players. We want to prepare ourselves so we won't be outdone mentally.
Makoto Hasebe, Japan captain

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni added: "It's going to be a difficult match but it's going to be a difficult match for the opponents as well. South Korea are a team with potential. They have quality players and their positioning on the pitch is great."

Japan battled to a scoreless friendly draw away to Korea Republic in October in what was only Zaccheroni's second match as Japan coach. Both sides reached the last sixteen of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa.