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Monday, July 30, 2007

Osim admits mistakes after disappointing finish in Asian Cup


Staff writer

HANOI — Ivica Osim felt he had "dropped his trousers" for the second straight game as Japan's Asian Cup campaign ended with an embarrassing penalty shootout defeat to 10-man South Korea in Saturday's third-place playoff.

'Keeper Lee Woon Jae saved substitute Naotake Hanyu's spot-kick after Kim Chi Woo scored the first sudden-death penalty as South Korea won 6-5 in the shootout after the game finished scoreless after 120 minutes, despite the Koreans having Kang Min Soo sent off just before the hour mark.

Osim blamed a lack of luck and tiredness for his team's inability to capitalize on the one-man advantage, but admitted he was embarrassed by a disastrous finish to the tournament Japan had hoped to win for a third successive time.

"I feel like I've dropped my trousers. Twice," Osim told reporters in the postgame news conference, referring also to the 3-2 semifinal loss to Saudi Arabia.

"We couldn't score but we didn't lose. We only lost on penalties, not in regular time or in extra time. We lost because of luck. We didn't have enough of it. And we were tired. In 20 days we had six games. The schedule was very rough and I think that is why we didn't play very well.

"But we didn't face anybody better than us. In every game we dictated the pace. But the players were so tired they couldn't execute my game plan properly."

Osim made only one change to the team that lost in the semifinals, bringing in Satoru Yamagishi in place of Seiichiro Maki, but the Bosnian admitted naming a near-unchanged lineup backfired and had an ominous warning for certain players.

"Keita (Suzuki), Shunsuke (Nakamura), (Yuichi) Komano and (Akira) Kaji were too tired to play, so maybe I should have substituted them," said Osim. "I took a risk with our formation, dared to use the players I did and I did it independently of what I thought South Korea would do.

"Some of my players made mistakes against the Saudis but I thought I'd give them another chance. They probably won't get a third. In my country we have a saying, 'A second chance will not come again.' If the second chance comes and you don't make the most of it, then don't expect a third."

South Korea's win in Palembang, Indonesia, secured an automatic place in the 2011 Asian Cup finals for the 2002 World Cup semifinalists. The Koreans played more than an hour with 10 men after Kang received a second yellow card for an almost non-existent foul on Naohiro Takahara. Coach Pim Verbeek and an assistant were then sent to the stands for protesting the dubious decision.

After the match, Verbeek, a former Omiya Ardija and Kyoto Purple Sanga coach, announced his decision to step down as head coach of South Korea. Reports have already linked Iraq coach Jorvan Vieira with the job.

"I have decided to resign," Verbeek told reporters. "I asked the KFA (Korean Football Association) to terminate my contract. I had a contract until the Olympics in 2008, but I asked them to terminate the contract for me to take a new challenge.

"I have had a good time in Korea. I think we have great fans and I have great memories of 2002, the 2006 Asian Games (in Doha last December) and the Asian Cup. I will leave Korea with great memories but it is time for a different challenge."

Dutchman Verbeek, 51, was assistant coach to compatriots Guus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat at the last two World Cups and took over as head coach in June last year. But Verbeek's hopes of leading South Korea to Asian Cup glory were hindered after top players such as Park Ji Sung withdrew from the squad for the finals because of injury.

"I had two important targets. The first target was to win the Asian Cup and we didn't. I was very disappointed when our four key players through injuries couldn't play at this tournament. But, on the other hand, I was convinced that with my selection of players, we could win this tournament also," said Verbeek.

"But I have to be fair also; I think we didn't score enough goals. We did a great job but we didn't score enough and to win a tournament like this you have to score goals."

The Koreans' shootout against Japan was their third straight in the finals.

They beat Iran in the quarterfinals on spot-kicks before losing 4-3 on penalties to Iraq in the semifinals.



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