Nice to see Koreans…Green wave takes over 3 hours before kickoff

Waves of green at Education City Stadium.

Jürgen Klinsmann’s South Korea national team (ranked 23rd by FIFA) will face Saudi Arabia (ranked 56th by FIFA) in the round of 16 at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Qatar 2023 Asian Cup at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, at 1:00 a.m. ET on June 31. The winner of the match will face Australia in the quarterfinals.

A large number of Saudi Arabian fans were expected before the match. Saudi fans were reportedly expecting to top their group since they were drawn with Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, and Oman, and booked accommodation near Education City Stadium, where the round of 16 will be played if they win the third round and top their group. My hotel is also near the Education City Stadium, and a lot of Saudi Arabian fans showed up around game three.

The number of Saudi fans was reportedly over 30,000. Saudi fans have been known to take over major streets in Qatar before the Korean War when their streets are open. Three hours before kickoff, Education City Stadium was filled with waves of green. The media center in Doha was also green, but the only people in the stadium were wearing Saudi flags. The media center is located in the heart of downtown Qatar and is a short metro ride from the Education City station, so it seemed like a pre-match celebration.

Koreans were a delight to meet. The stores selling official merchandise had Saudi Arabia-related merchandise and there were Saudi performances. There were Korean fans, but Saudi fans were in the minority. Some of them were hanging Saudi flags given to them by the tournament organizers. At first glance, it felt like a Saudi home.

The atmosphere would be more Saudi during the match. Klinsmann doesn’t seem to mind. At the pre-match press conference on the 29th, Klinsmann said, “I want to do well against a strong team like Saudi Arabia. There will be a lot of spectators, and I think it will create a good atmosphere.”

In an interview at the training center on the 28th, Oh Hyun-gyu said, “It will be fun to see a lot of fans coming to Saudi Arabia. If there are no fans, it can be quiet and you don’t feel like playing, but if there are a lot of fans, we will play with excitement. Korea is ready, and there’s no point in talking about it, so we’ll show it tomorrow,” he said confidently.

Win or lose, the Saudi fans outside the Education City Stadium will be in full swing. Hopefully, it will be the South Korean fans who are actually smiling as they leave the stadium.

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