Hong Myung-bo, head coach of South Korean men’s national football team, is scheduled to depart for Germany on Friday to see players expected to join his lineup for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, officials said.
The Korea Football Association declined to reveal further details of Hong’s itinerary. It confirmed, however, that Hong will arrive back home on Aug. 26.
In Germany, Hong will see three South Koreans in the top-tier Bundesliga: forward Son Heung-min of Bayer Leverkusen, midfielder Koo Ja-cheol of VfL Wolfsburg and fullback Park Joo-ho of Mainz.
Their regular season began last weekend, and Son, who left Hamburger SV to join Bayer Leverkusen in the offseason, scored his first regular season goal for his new club in the season opener.
|Hong Myung-bo. (Yonhap News)|
On Saturday, Bayer Leverkusen faces VfB Stuttgart, while VfL Wolfsburg takes on Schalke 04 and Mainz travels to SC Freiburg.
On Aug. 24, Mainz will host VfL Wolfsburg, setting up a potential showdown between Park and Koo.
South Korea played Peru to a scoreless draw at home on Wednesday. Despite dominating ball possession and generating a series of opportunities, South Korea played its third 0-0 tie in four games under Hong, who took over the national team in June.
South Korea will have two more international matches in September. It will host Croatia on Sept. 10 at a venue to be determined later. It also has Sept. 6 open; Iran had initially been scheduled to be South Korea’s opponent but withdrew its commitment earlier this month.
According to the KFA, Hong plans to announce his roster for the two September matches during the final week of this month. The coach didn’t name any Europe-based player to his 20-man squad against Peru, but he said last week he will bring stars from Europe for the two matches in September.
After returning from Germany, Hong will travel to England, the KFA added.
Four more South Koreans are in the English Premier League:
winger Kim Bo-kyung of Cardiff City, holding midfielder Ki Sung-yueng of Swansea City, forward Park Chu-young of Arsenal and forward Ji Dong-won of Sunderland.
Kim and Ki are expected to see the bulk of action on their teams. Park and Ji came back to the Premier League this summer after spending the last season on loan to Celta Vigo in Spain and FC Augsburg in Germany, respectively. Prior to agreeing to the loan deals, both players had seen little action with their English clubs. They have been the subject of persistent transfer rumors since their return.
South Korea has scored only one goal in its last four matches without Europe-based players, and Hong is desperately seeking a finisher around the net. Though Park and Ji have proven to be capable goal scorers in their careers, Hong has said he won’t select players who aren‘t playing regularly on their clubs.
Without their services, Hong will likely count on Son, a dynamic scorer who set his career-high with 12 goals last season and is off to a rousing start this season.
In midfield, Europe-based players may face competition for playing time from up-and-coming youngsters from the domestic K League Classic. For instance, Yun Il-lok of FC Seoul has been the lone goal scorer for Hong and has been the team’s biggest offensive spark plug in each of the last four matches.
The first-division English season will start on Saturday, with Cardiff City opening against West Ham United, Swansea City playing Manchester United, Sunderland facing Fulham and Arsenal taking on Aston Villa.
Elsewhere in England, midfielder Lee Chung-yong of Bolton Wanderers and defensive back Yun Suk-young of Queens Park Rangers are playing in the second-tier Football League Championship. Their season began on Aug. 3. (Yonhap News)