SPORTS

Pro football league agrees to early call-up for natl. team

By Yonhap
  • Published : Jul 28, 2017 - 11:15
  • Updated : Aug 11, 2017 - 13:11
South Korea's pro football league on Friday agreed to release its players ahead of schedule for the national team for key World Cup qualifying matches.

The K League, operator of the pro football competition, said it decided to accept a request by the Korea Football Association to release the players early for the national team preparing for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The clubs are not obligated to make their players available until three days prior to international match day, but to give the national team more time to train before World Cup qualifiers, the club officials said they agreed to send the players earlier than scheduled.

National team head coach Shin Tae-yong was originally scheduled to assemble the squad at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, on Aug. 28, but now he can have the national team ready for training on Aug. 21. He will announce the squad for World Cup qualifiers on Aug. 14.

In this file photo taken on July 12, 2017, South Korea`s national football team head coach Shin Tae-yong (L) watches the K League Classic match between FC Seoul and the Pohang Steelers with assistant coach Kim Nam-il at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Earlier Friday, Shin and the KFA officials visited a workshop for 22 K League club representatives in Seoul and asked for cooperation with the call-ups, since upcoming qualifiers are crucial for South Korea's quest for its ninth consecutive World Cup appearance.

In the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, South Korea are scheduled to host Iran on Aug. 31 and face Uzbekistan in Tashkent on Sept. 5 for the finale. The Taeguk Warriors are barely holding on to the final automatic qualification spot with 13 points, sitting just one point up on Uzbekistan in second place in Group A.

In Asia, the top two teams from Groups A and B can advance directly to the World Cup in Russia. Two third-place teams must go through a playoffs for their final chance.

The K League said it will reschedule fixtures for this season later.

"I want to thank the league and the club officials for their cooperation," Shin said. "Now we have an atmosphere where we can get closer to the 2018 World Cup in Russia."

Shin previously said he may pick more than 10 players from domestic clubs. Since his appointment, the 46-year-old has been watching K League matches closely to assess the players for the national team.

"I'm not going to pick many K League players just because the league approved the early call-up," he said. "But at this moment, the K League players look better. Although I have to check the players' form, whether they are from domestic league or overseas, I will start those who are the best fit for the match." (Yonhap)