Coaches clash on eve of Iran-South Korea showdown

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Doha, Jan 21 (AFP) A war of words broke out between thecoaches of South Korea and Iran today on the eve of theirhighly-anticipated Asian Cup quarter-final, after Korean coachCho Kwang-Rae said he expected a dirty game.

It will be the fifth straight last-eight meeting betweenthe sides at the continental showpiece, with both having wontwice, while Cho''s confident opposite number Afshin Ghotbiused to be the assistant South Korean coach.

Adding more spice to what promises to be a tasty affair,Cho warned fans not to expect a classic, while Ghotbidismissed this and said his knowledge of the South Korean teamgave his side a distinct advantage.

"The Korean team keeps changing and developing their wayof playing so past information Afshin Ghotbi has may not be souseful," Cho said.

"They may start by committing a lot of fouls. Fans don''tlike to watch this."

Warming to the theme, he added: "I believe it is part ofAfshin Ghotbi''s tactics in games in general and it might bewhy his team did not qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

"I also saw that in the qualification round and infriendly matches I''ve seen. It might be part of their tactics.

But I say this for the fans and it might better for them notto see it."

Cho and defender Cha Du-Ri struck a bullish tone despitefailing to top their group, setting up yet anotherquarter-final showdown with Group D table-toppers Iran, theonly team boasting a 100 percent record in Doha.

There is little to choose between the two teams, althoughIran defeated the Koreans 1-0 in Seoul in a Septemberfriendly.

"Previous Asian Cup matches we met and sometimes we lostand sometimes we won," said Glasgow Celtic defender Cha. MORE(AFP) CM

"In the friendly in Seoul we were under pressure to build a new team and under a new coach. It was preparation for thefuture.

"They are a good team but we should not fear them as wehave played better sides and we have enough confidence to playanyone."

Ghotbi, who speaks fluent English having been educated inthe United States, denied there was any animosity between himand Cho.

"There are no hard feelings at all, it''s only part of thegame," he said.

"But with all respect to the South Korean coach, theyneed to foul us to stop us as I think we have the betterfootball team.

"There is always psychology in football and the higherthe level the more sharp that is. But when it comes topsychology, we are better than the South Korean coach.

"I believe tactically, technically and psychologically wehave an advantage because of my long term with the Koreanteam."

And Ghotbi, who was the assistant to Dick Advocaat andthen Pim Verbeek with South Korea, struck an equally positivetone if the quarter-final goes down penalties.

"They have many young players in the South Korean teamand if it goes to penalties, I believe they will choke."

Contrary to Cho''s warning to fans not to expect a greatgame, his rival said: "Iran-South Korea is a fixture etched instone in the Asian Cup. It seems like every Asian Cup we meet.

"I believe it will be a classic between two of the bestteams in Asia. My team are healthy and fit and ready to meetour next target of the semi-finals." (AFP) CM

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