South Korea plan to train in the Middle East next month to prepare for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, an official at the national football governing body said Wednesday.
The official said the Korea Football Association is currently searching for overseas venues where the men's national team can train for up to two weeks in January.
"Since South Korea will have cold weather, the association is considering holding its training (somewhere) in the Middle East, such as the United Arab Emirates," the official said. "The KFA is also working to arrange friendly matches during that period."
FIFA hasn't designated any international match day period in January, meaning foreign clubs are not obligated to release their players even if South Korea play a friendly match next month. With such restrictions, South Korea head coach Shin Tae-yong will not be able to call up Europe-based star players like Son Heung-min and Ki Sung-yueng, as their respective clubs will be still in the middle of the season. Instead, Shin will assemble those who play in the domestic K League and other Asian leagues.
In this file photo taken Nov. 29, 2017, South Korea national football team players train at Ulsan Stadium in Ulsan. (Yonhap)
For his team's friendly matches, Shin has already asked the KFA to search for teams that best resemble their group stage opponents at the 2018 World Cup. South Korea are in Group F at the World Cup in Russia along with defending champions Germany; the North, Central and Caribbean region qualifying tournament winners Mexico; and Sweden, which beat football giants Italy in the European qualifying playoffs.
Among them, Sweden has already decided to have its winter training in the UAE. The Swedes are scheduled to have friendly matches with Estonia and Denmark next month.
The South Korean team is currently in Japan to compete at the East Asian Football Federation E-1 Football Championship against North Korea, China and Japan.
Meanwhile, the KFA is expected to announce South Korea's World Cup training base later this week. With Saint Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city, having emerged as the top candidate, the KFA will select the base after discussions with Shin.
Mexico plan to stay at Dynamo Moscow's training center in Novogorsk, just outside Moscow, while Sweden chose Gelendzhik, a resort town located on the coast of the Black Sea. (Yonhap)