SPORTS

Natl. football coach closes in on completing roster for World Cup qualifiers

By Yonhap
  • Published : Aug 3, 2017 - 09:17
  • Updated : Aug 11, 2017 - 13:09

New South Korea football coach Shin Tae-yong said Wednesday that roster for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers is about 70 to 80 percent complete, and he may select up to 26 players to prepare for the crucial matches.

Shin, who took over the men's senior squad last month, will announce his first national team roster on Aug. 14 for the World Cup qualifiers against Iran and Uzbekistan. He will start training with the players one week later.

"My roster is about 70 to 80 percent complete," Shin told reporters during the halftime of the K League Classic match between FC Seoul and Gangwon FC at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul. "I have to select the players by looking at overall data, so that's why I still have to a room to complete."

South Korea only have two matches remaining in the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. They are scheduled to host already-qualified Iran on Aug. 31 and face Uzbekistan in Tashkent on Sept. 5 for the finale.

The Taeguk Warriors, however, 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.

South Korea's national football team head coach Shin Tae-yong watches the K League Classic match between FC Seoul and Gangwon FC at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul on Aug. 2, 2017. (Yonhap)
"We've already finished our analysis on Iran, and we've just started looking at Uzbekistan matches," he said.

Shin's side last week received approval from the South Korean pro football league office that it can summon the national players one week earlier than scheduled. The 46-year-old, who previously led South Korea's under-23 and under-20 squads, also plans to call-up the national players in China early. He will travel to China on Friday to check on the South Korean players in the Chinese Super League.

"I want a player who can devote himself until the final whistle," he said. "As for attacking position, we need to have a player who can show that a striker isn't only about scoring goals."

Shin said his squad will have about 25 to 26 players, and he is still checking on the injury status of two key players: Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur and Ki Sung-yueng of Swansea City. Son suffered a fracture in his right arm during the World Cup qualifier against Qatar in June, while Ki underwent knee surgery last month. Both players are currently on injury-rehabilitation in Britain with their English Premier League clubs.

"Son joined his team's training, and Ki began jogging," he said. "But for Ki, it's still questionable whether he can be fully fit to play the matches." (Yonhap)