Park Ji-sung, former captain of the South Korean men's football team, on Thursday expressed hopes that the national team will deliver the goods at an upcoming continental tournament, saying the country has enough talent to end its long title drought.
Park was visiting Seoul as a new ambassador for Manchester United, the English Premier League club for which he played from 2005 to 2012. He retired from football in May and last played a match for South Korea in 2011.
His final international tournament was the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar. As South Korea gets ready for the 2015 tournament, which will be held in Australia in January, Park said he feels there is enough talent for South Korea to win its first Asian Cup since 1960.
"I think the team, on paper, is good enough to contend for the title," Park said at a press conference. "I know the players will be under pressure to end the drought, but there are some good young players who have been in fine form. I think they can bring home some positive results."
Park, though, qualified his remarks by saying South Korea may still be a team in transition, as head coach Uli Stielike has only been with the team since October.
"I think it will take some time for the players and the new coach to adjust to each other," the former midfielder added. "So in a way, it may be difficult to win the Asian Cup, and the pressure to win may work against the team."
Stielike took over a team that was reeling from a quick, winless exit out of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil this summer. Park said the national team should try to win back the faith of the fans they lost in the aftermath of the World Cup.
"First and foremost, it's important to win over the fans," he said. "If the players can show promise at the Asian Cup, then they will have accomplished their goal."