INCHEON -- South Korea men's national football team head coach Shin Tae-yong said Tuesday he believes there is a possibility that his side can reach the round of 16 at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Shin returned home after inspecting Europe-based players and South Korea's World Cup training base in St. Petersburg, Russia, since Feb. 24. The 48-year-old coach said if South Korea can have good preparations, reaching the knockout stage at the upcoming World Cup is possible.
At the World Cup in Russia, South Korea are in Group F with defending champions Germany, Mexico and Sweden.
|South Korea men`s national football team head coach Shin Tae-yong speaks to reporters at Incheon International Airport on Tuesday. (Yonhap)|
"If we work harder and prepare for the tournament thoroughly, I think we can achieve our goal," Shin said to reporters at Incheon International Airport. "There is obviously pressure, but if fans can give us more support, our players will get more energy and do their jobs well."
In his latest trip to Europe, Shin said he watched Koo Ja-cheol of FC Augsburg and Ji Dong-won of Darmstadt, who both play in Germany, and Hwang Hee-chan, a striker for Austrian outfit Red Bull Salzburg.
"I liked Hwang's aggressive plays to create opportunities for the team, although he didn't score many goals," he said. "Koo was doing fine although he had a cold. Ji had some muscle problem in his ankle, so he wasn't fit."
Shin said it's a good sign that other European-based players like Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur and Ki Sung-yueng of Swansea City are showing good performances in the English Premier League.
Shin's side will have friendly matches with Northern Ireland and Poland on the road later this month. He is scheduled to announce the squad for two friendlies next week.
"I hope our players can play their best game without getting injured," he said. "We need to deliver a performance that can give hope to our fans at the World Cup."
Shin said his selection for the final World Cup squad has almost been completed. The former U-20 and U-23 national team coach added that there are still a couple of positions that he needs to think about, but he doesn't plan to check new players from now on.
"I spent two or three years with most of the players, so I know who they are," he said. "There will be some variables like injuries, but my plan for the final squad is almost done. Since the preliminary entry for the World Cup has been extended from 30 players to 35, I'm going to select my final 23-man squad from that list." (Yonhap)