Shin Tae-yong announced the 26-man roster for the two remaining Asian qualifying matches for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
South Korea will host Iran in Seoul on Aug. 31 and travel to Tashkent to face Uzbekistan on Sept. 5.
And given South Korea's showing so far, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out South Korea's defense needs some fine-tuning.
They've given up 10 goals in eight matches so far, tied for the worst in Group A with Qatar. South Korea have conceded goals against such underdogs as China and Qatar. At least South Korea are in the qualifying position -- in second place with 13 points, seven back of Iran -- thanks to their group-high 11 goals.
|FIFA World Cup head coach Shin Tae-yong (Yonhap)|
Shin's team includes a handful of players based in Europe, but he built his defense entirely with players from Asian leagues -- five based in South Korea and three in China.
Shin's predecessor, Uli Stielike, often went with multiple defenders from the Chinese Super League, but these players were heavily criticized for their shaky play internationally. Angry fans even argued that those players had regressed after moving to China because they'd played down to the level of competition there.
Shin said he isn't the type to say anything before matches that could affect team morale, but admitted the defense will need some work.
"I personally think that under coach Stielike, our defense lacked cohesion and wasn't very solid as a unit," Shin said. "We'll have about 10 days to build our chemistry. It may not be enough time but we'll do the best we can."
From the Chinese league, Shin named Kim Kee-hee of Shanghai Greenland Shenhua, Kim Ju-young of Hebei China Fortune and Kim Young-gwon of Guangzhou Evergrande. The two upcoming matches will be the first international contests for all three players in 2017.
Shin said those three or anyone based in China aren't lacking in skills.
"They were good enough for the Chinese clubs to pay a lot of money to sign," the coach said. "I selected these three players because they've been getting a lot of action on their respective clubs and they've maintain great form. I think they'll be able to address issues on our defense."
Shin selected 26 players, three over the maximum allowed for World Cup qualifiers, but said he won't cut anyone for the matches.
"The entire 26-man squad will stick together as one until through the end," the coach said. "I think the fate of South Korean football will hinge upon these two matches. We'll have to show a lot of determination to win."
Shin said his brand of football is far from pretty.
"I want every one of the players, and not just the 11 on the pitch, to concentrate on the match at hand for 90 minutes," he said. "We have to take not just one, but two, three extra steps on our opponents. We have to put everything on the line to win these games." (Yonhap)