Jurgen Klinsmann said his South Korea team are determined to prove the doubters wrong when they face semi-final debutants Jordan at the Asian Cup on Tuesday.
Led by Son Heung-min, South Korea are attempting to win the title for the first time since 1960 but they appear determined to do it the hard way in Qatar.
They have scored late in games on four occasions on the way to the last four — South Korean media has dubbed it “zombie football” for the way they keep coming back from the dead.
Klinsmann, who won the World Cup as a player for Germany, is yet to win over South Korean fans and media but told his men on Monday to block out any negativity.
“As a group of players they are so experienced, motivated, so positive, they want to go all the way to the final and make their pown point.”
He added: “We are hungry, fit, looking forward to the game and we want to be here all the way to the final.
“The mood is positive, the spirit is good.”
South Korea will be favourites to beat Jordan — the lowest-ranked team left in the competition — and reach Saturday’s final, with Iran or holders Qatar awaiting them.
But South Korea and Jordan drew 2-2 in the group phase with the Koreans salvaging a point with an injury-time own goal.
They also needed penalties to see off Saudi Arabia and beat Australia in extra time in the quarter-finals, with Son scoring the winner.
Klinsmann may not be universally popular despite taking South Korea to the last four, but he said: “I want to do well for Korea and give this team all the knowledge and experience that I have.
“There will be a lot of emotions and it’s going to be another nail-biter.
“But I am enjoying every second of this tournament, it is a fantastic experience.”
He said confidence is building among his side as they go deeper into the tournament and believes the country is finally getting behind them.
“Now we go towards the end of the marathon and to win it is our goal,” he said.
– Jordan look to fans –
Jordan’s coach Hussein Ammouta warned his side that they must be prepared to fight to the end given their opponents’ ability to stay alive in matches.
“The focus has to be big, it is going to be tiring,” said the Moroccan, whose team beat debutants Tajikistan 1-0 in the quarter-finals to reach the semi-finals for the first time.
“We have to struggle and fight until the very last minutes.”
Ammouta said that Klinsmann’s side have the edge technically, identifying their “control, possession, quick movement of the ball, their technical capacity to control the game”.
But he said: “We are trying to make up for that tactically and through collective play.”
And he said Jordan’s fans, who will likely outnumber the South Korean supporters at the 45,000-capacity Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, can play their part.
“We rely heavily on the presence of our fans and I hope we put in an excellent performance for them,” said Ammouta.
“We have to focus on the small details that will make the big difference.”