‘Confident Iron’ FW Oh Hyun-kyu…”Saudi Arabia 6G 1 goal? It’s because I didn’t meet Korea”
South Korea national soccer team striker Oh Hyun-gyu (Celtic) has expressed confidence in the Saudi Arabian defense.
“I think it’s because they haven’t met Korea,” Oh said confidently, laughing at Saudi Arabia’s low goal total in an interview at the Al Eglah Training Center in Doha, Qatar, on Monday (Aug. 28).
The Taeguk Warriors have been training for the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup round of 16 in Qatar since July 27. South Korea, who finished second in Group E, will face Saudi Arabia at 1 a.m. on Aug. 31 at Al Rayyan Education City Stadium in Qatar for a spot in the quarterfinals.
The matchup is one of the biggest of the tournament’s Round of 16 as the two teams, who both represented Asia at the last World Cup in Qatar 2022, meet in a comparative round of 16.
The Klinsmanns are in “tournament mode,” as the games could mean the difference between advancing to the quarterfinals or going home.
South Korea played all three of its group games at 2:30 p.m. local time. With South Korea’s tournament games, including the Saudi Arabia match, taking place between 6 and 7 p.m., Klinsmann moved his training sessions from the morning to the afternoon.
It was during the first practice in the afternoon that Oh was interviewed. Oh, who plays for Scottish side Celtic, has been a substitute in two of the three group stage matches during the Asian Cup. He came on as a second-half substitute in the third group game against Malaysia, which ended in a 3-3 draw on Sept. 25, and took a penalty kick. Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur) then converted to seal the win, but it was short-lived as the Koreans conceded an equalizer in stoppage time.
Although he didn’t score on his A-League debut, he can take a lot of confidence from the valuable penalty. With fellow striker Cho Kyu-sung struggling mightily in the group stage, a surprise start for Oh could be on the cards.
For Oh, it’s important to play in Qatar like this. At the World Cup in Qatar in November 2022, he witnessed the team reach the round of 16 as a reserve. He followed Son Heung-min and other strikers in case they were dropped, but he didn’t make the roster, and then joined Celtic in Scotland to play in Europe, and now he’s one of 26 players in the Asian Cup.
Now, a match against Saudi Arabia lies ahead.
In the round of 16, South Korea will take on Saudi Arabia, who are coached by Robert Mancini. The Saudis have been solid defensively of late, conceding just one goal in six Group A matches under Mancini, who is a world-class coach.
It will be a tough matchup for South Korea, whose strikers have been lacking in field goals in this group, but Oh shakes his head.
“It’s because (the Saudis) haven’t met Korea,” he said, showing a strong sense of confidence.