South Korean men’s national football team departed for Brazil on Monday to set up its first pre-World Cup training camp in the South American country.
Head coach Hong Myung-bo will lead a squad of 23 players from South Korean, Chinese and Japanese leagues to the World Cup host country.
The team will arrive in Foz do Iguacu in Brazil and train there for a week before moving to Los Angeles, according to the Korea Football Association.
In the United States, South Korea will take on three World Cup participants in friendly matches: Costa Rica on Jan. 25 in Los Angeles, Mexico on Jan. 29 in San Antonio and the U.S. in Carson, California, on Feb. 1.
For the three-plus weeks of training and friendly matches, South Korea will not have the services of its top guns in European leagues, where seasons are in full swing and clubs aren’t obliged to release their players for the occasion.
|Korea head coach Hong Myung-bo (Yonhap News)|
Instead, Hong called up players based in the domestic K League Classic, the Chinese Super League and Japan’s J. League, whose new seasons won’t begin until the spring. For the World Cup, South Korea is expected to fill up to half of its lineup with established and experienced Europe-based players. Hong has earlier said the upcoming road trip will be a chance for other players to fight for the remaining roster spots and make an impression.
Hong has repeatedly said no one player is guaranteed a spot on the final World Cup roster and the door will be open for those who have a good camp this month.
The traveling squad includes recent national team fixtures, such as forwards Kim Shin-wook of Ulsan Hyundai and Lee Keun-ho of Sangju Sangmu, and a trio of little-known defenders, Kim Dae-ho of Pohang Steelers, Lee Ji-nam of Daegu FC and Park Jin-po of Seongnam FC. (Yonhap News)