We are into the final day of the Round of 16 at the AFC Asian Cup 2019 and it will be Korea Republic who will face Bahrain in the first kick off of the continental championship in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Tuesday.
Korea, powered by Tottenham Hotspur attacker Son Heung-min, are heavy favourites to win the competition this time around, but first, they will have to get the better of Bahrain, who progressed as one of the third-placed teams as they finished behind host UAE and Thailand in Group A.
LIVE STREAMING SOUTH KOREA VS BAHRAIN.
Here are five key facts heading into the last 16 tie.
1) The South Koreans have eight clean sheets from last nine
A statistic that proves how strong the Taegeuk Warriors have been in the tournament is the number of clean sheets they have kept recently in the tournament.
In fact, Korea have only conceded a goal in just one of their nine Asian Cup games since the start of the AFC Asian Cup 2015.
Unfortunately, the match in which they conceded was the final of the tournament last time around where they lost 2-1 to hosts Australia.
2) Honours even between the two sides
This might be the first time Korea Republic and Bahrain are meeting in the knockout stages of the Asian Cup, but the two teams have met twice in the group stages before.
In their first meeting in the competition during the 2007 Asian Cup co-hosted by Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, it was Bahrain who came out on top winning 2-1. However, that will be their only points in the tournament that year as they crashed out with defeats to Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.
The two teams were once again drawn together in the 2011 Asian Cup group stages and this time, it was the South Koreans who edged past Bahrain winning their tournament opener 2-1, thanks to a brace from Koo Ja-cheol.
3) Sonny on fire for the Taegeuk Warriors
SON WATCH: Son Heung-min vs China
Son Heung-min only joined up with the Korea Republic national team after their second group game against Kyrgyz Republic, however his impact is already there to be seen.
Despite only playing in the final group stage match against China PR, no player has created more goalscoring chances for Korea Republic in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 so far!
The Spurs forward created as many as seven goalscoring opportunities for his teammates against Team Dragon. Coach Paulo Bento will be expecting more of the same for Son against Bahrain.
4) Can Bahrain replicate 2004 run?
Bahrain’s best run in the competition came in 2004 when they reached the semifinals of the tournament held in China.
They defeated Indonesia and held on to draws against Qatar and China to progress from the groups before defeating Uzbekistan on penalties in the quarterfinal.
They also ran eventual champions Japan close in the semifinals, however, went down 3-4 after extra time to the Samurai Blue.
It remained to be the only time that Bahrain made it out of the group stages of the Asian Cup until 2019!
5) Bahrain have used the fewest players in Asian Cup 2019!
AFC Asian Cup 2019: How to earn a yellow card without stepping on the pitch feat. Bahrain
Of the 16 tems that have progressed to the knockout stages of the Asian Cup, Bahrain are the side to have used the least number of players during the group stages.
Miroslav Soukup’s side have only utilised 15 players during the three group matches against hosts UAE, India and Thailand.
(Facts via OPTA)
South Korea vs Bahrain live online: match preview
South Korea continue their campaign to regain a title they haven’t won since 1960 on home soil when they face Bahrain in the last 16 of the 2019 Asian Cup on Tuesday. The Taegeuk Warriors have been runners-up on four occasions since then, most recently in 2015 when lost on penalties to host nation Australia.
Paulo Bento’s side showed what they are capable of in a comprehensive 2-0 victory over China to seal top spot in the group stage and it is probably no coincidence that performance coincided with the arrival of Son Heung-min; South Korea has won their previous two matches by a single goal.
But there is much more to this Korea side than just the Spurs forward. Hwang Ui-jo has been in decent form, scoring in two Group C encounters, while Hwang Hee-chan impressed on the right wing during the China game. Bento’s side have also yet to concede in the UAE.
Bahrain reached the last 16 as the highest-ranked third-placed side in the tournament, drawing with hosts UAE and beating India in a tough Group A and narrowly losing to Thailand to prevent them topping the group.
A fourth-place finish in China in 2004 represents the Asian Cup high water mark for Bahrain, who have not been past the group stages since until this year.
Miroslav Soukup will be aware that he cannot hope to match South Korea in attacking prowess and will set up accordingly, his side having scored just twice during the group stage and conceded the same number.
While his opposite number has options off the bench if required, Soukop has a fairly thin squad and the Bahrain coach used the fewest players of any nation at the 2019 Asian Cup during the group stage.