Asian great Park Ji-sung poised for 100th cap

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One of Asia's greatest players will add another accolade to his already impressive resume on Tuesday when he wins his 100th cap for South Korea in its Asian Cup semifinal against arch-rivals Japan.

Asian great Park Ji-sung poised for 100th cap

Manchester United's Park Ji-sung, who rose to prominence under Dutch coach Guus Hiddink at the 2002 World Cup, said it meant all the more to achieve the feat at a top international event.

"Obviously it will be a great honor to play the 100th game for the national team in a major tournament like the Asian Cup," said the 29-year-old.

Park, his country's most iconic sportsman, joins seven other South Koreans to have reached the landmark, but still has some way to go to better all-time leader Hong Myung-bo, who played 136 times before retiring in 2002.

Should he continue playing, his next target will be Hwang Sun-hong, who won 103 caps.

But Park's international future is unclear.

Before the Asian Cup, he strongly hinted he would retire at the end of the tournament to focus on prolonging his United career.

His father told Korean media it would be his last major event, and on his arrival in Doha, Park said: "It will be a very special Asian Cup for me.

"I do not have much time left in the international game. This makes me want to win the Asian Cup more than ever before."

But Park is so influential that South Korea coach Cho Kwang-rae has been desperately trying to convince his captain to stay and help him build his current young, and very impressive team, into world beaters.

Cho wants the hard-working Park to continue until the World Cup in Brazil.

Asian great Park Ji-sung poised for 100th cap

When quizzed by media last week, all Park had to say was: "At the moment I can't say anything. I will talk after the Asian Cup."

If he decides to quit, it will be be a huge loss not just for South Korea, but soccer on the continent in general.

Park has been the most recognizable face of Asian soccer for years, ever since bursting on to the scene at the 2002 World Cup on home soil when South Korea upset the odds to make the semifinals.

Born in Seoul, he began his career playing for Myongji University before moving to Japan with Kyoto Purple Sanga, helping them win the Emperor's Cup.

He made his international debut in 2000 and when Hiddink moved back to the Netherlands after the 2002 World Cup success, Park followed him a year later.

He made 63 appearances for PSV, scoring 13 goals, and when it reached the semifinals of the 2004-05 Champions League his talents were recognized by astute Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, who signed him in July 2005.

Noted for his exceptional fitness levels, discipline and work ethic, Park quickly established himself in the team, becoming firm friends with Carlos Tevez and Patrice Evra.

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