12/17/2018 4:33:07 PM (GMT+3)

South Korea battle odds to win first AFC Asian Cup in 1956

South Korea battle odds to win first AFC Asian Cup in 1956

KOLKATA: Park Kyung-Ho, who was part of South Korea’s first-ever AFC Asian Cup win in Hong Kong (CHN) in 1956, said that it was a difficult time since his country participated just after the Korean War.   

“At the time, it was just after the Korean War so the economic situation at home wasn’t great,” Park told the-afc.com. “We only had one international flight a week and we took that to Chinese Taipei for the qualifying tournament, and we didn’t expect to win. But we did, and that’s how we made it to Hong Kong for the finals.”

The UAE will host the 17th edition which will feature some of the top sides including Iran, Japan and Australia.

“One week after the qualifier, we went to Hong Kong. We didn’t expect to win against Chinese Taipei, so we hadn’t bought a ticket to Hong Kong. So we had to go back to Seoul and then wait for a week and we only arrived on the day that the tournament started,” added Park.

Hosts Hong Kong, South Vietnam, Israel and South Korea featured in that inaugural finals, but none had gone through what the Koreans endured.

Park and his team-mates celebrated their historic triumph at the 1956 edition, marking the end of a remarkable journey.

“All the players belonged to the army so we only had one week to prepare before the game in Taipei,” said Park. “We went to Seoul and had to stay there for a week.”

After that slow yet colourful start, the Koreans found their legs in the second match to defeat Israel 2-1 before a 5-3 victory over South Vietnam ensured they finish top in the four-team standings to win the trophy for the first time.

“The home fans supported us. We only had 18 players including the coach, team manager and federation president. The Hong Kong people knew we had just come out of the Korean War and that times were difficult for us. We didn’t had a team doctor. When a player would get injured on the pitch the other players would have to treat him with water,” added Park. (Pic courtesy: the-afc.com)