South Korea-Great Britain Preview
Britain is reveling in the feel-good factor of the country's home Olympics as it looks to continue its march toward the medal podium.
After clinching the top spot in Group A, Britain takes on South Korea in the quarterfinals at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium in Wales on Saturday.
A 1-0 victory over Uruguay on Wednesday gave Britain first place in its group as it continued its Olympic run in front of the home fans.
"It's just amazing to be part of something so special," said Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge, who scored against Uruguay to follow his strike against the UAE three days before. "The Olympics is bigger than football, it's a worldwide occasion. And I'm happy to be part of it, I'm happy to help the team.
"It's difficult for teams that have been put together to all of a sudden play together and try to have some form of connection on the field. But we're all good players and as the days and weeks have gone by we have made a connection and made partnerships with each other. There are no divisions between us and everyone gets along."
South Korea qualified in second position from Group B despite scoring just two goals in the three group games. Britain coach Stuart Pearce, though, insists his players won't underestimate the challenge.
"I've watched South Korea once and they are a workmanlike side," he said. "We had a situation where we didn't know exactly who we would be playing, but we had a feeling it would be them, so we will be prepared and we won't underestimate them.
"Their preparation has been fantastic coming into this. They are a good side, well prepared, well organized - everything you would expect from a side in the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games. They offer something different each time, technically and tactically."
Despite the wave of optimism surrounding the host side, Pearce insists Brazil is still the standout team in the competition.
"I will stick by what I said going into the tournament that Brazil are vast favorites," he said. "But football is quite funny and when you have a game every three days the mental part of it comes into play, and there will be sides that are flat to the wall physically."
South Korea may have to beat Britain and Brazil en route to the final having been handed the tougher side of the draw, but manager Myung-Bo Hong believes anything is possible for his talented squad.
"Our players have been playing well," Hong said after his team's scoreless draw with Gabon. "I do not know what the British team think of the Korean team, but if there is any overconfidence then we will use it to our advantage. Many people think the Great Britain team is superior to the Korean team, but anything can happen. We will put everything into this match.
"Our result in the tournament is important, not the result in the matches. Our target was to qualify, but we will aim higher still. We used a lot of energy in our first and second games, so the third game was difficult for us. But I think we have good experience at knockout stages."
The semifinals will be held Tuesday, with the winner in Cardiff to face the winner of the Brazil-Honduras match.
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