In-form Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-Sung will return to boost Korea Republic against UAE on Wednesday as they seek their first win of the last Asian round of 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying.
Park and Borussia Dortmund defender Lee Young-Pyo, who were unavailable for the opening 1-1 draw with Korea DPR, are both recalled as the South Koreans look to kick-start their campaign. The pair, who have combined for 170 caps, will anchor the Korean squad, which needs to beat the winless UAE to bolster its hopes of reaching their seventh consecutive FIFA World Cup.
The South Koreans, who reached the 2002 FIFA World Cup semi-finals, beat Uzbekistan 3-0 in a friendly on Saturday in a rare goal spree in front of their home fans. Head coach Huh Jung-Moo said the victory was encouraging, but admitted his squad still has some work to do. "I wish our players were more accurate with their passing and shooting," he said. "And we still have to improve our ball control deep in the box."
Huh will look to Park, the only Premier League player in the line-up, to control the pace of the attack and to provide leadership on and off the pitch. Park, wore the skipper's armband on Saturday for the first time in his international career, was his usual tireless self in the win over Uzbekistan.
The versatile midfielder said the victory was more than just a boost for the team's collective confidence. "I think the guys are really coming together as a team, and they're more willing to make sacrifices for each other," Park said after a practice on Monday. "We're going to be relaxed and will be ready to show fans everything we have. I've been gearing up for the match."
The UAE team, which drew with Japan 1-1 in their own friendly last Thursday, arrived in Korea Republic on Monday. Dominique Bathenay, who was promoted from assistant coach to head coach earlier this month, told reporters he is here to win.
"Korea are a strong team but we can also survive the final round," said Bathenay, who replaced Bruno Metsu after the team lost the first two games in the final qualifying round. "We know it won't be an easy match, but we will just play our own game."