SPORTS

Korea name 26-man squad for football friendlies vs. Australia, Uzbekistan

By Yonhap
  • Published : Nov 5, 2018 - 10:44
  • Updated : Nov 5, 2018 - 13:27

South Korea have included three new faces on their football roster for friendly matches against Australia and Uzbekistan later this month.

Head coach Paulo Bento unveiled his 26-man squad Monday that will travel to Brisbane, Australia. The Taeguk Warriors are scheduled to face Australia on Nov. 17 and Uzbekistan three days later.

The two friendlies are tune-ups for the 2019 Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates that kicks off two months later.


This file photo taken on June 25, 2018, shows South Korea`s national football team players training at Spartak Stadium in Lomonosov, Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Yonhap)

Bento picked six players who didn't feature in South Korea's October friendlies and three of them were called up to the senior national team for the first time.

Na Sang-ho, a forward at Gwangju FC; Kim Jung-min, a midfielder who plays with Austrian side FC Liefering; and Lee You-hyeon, a defender at Jeonnam Dragons, earned their first senior national team call-up. Na and Kim are members of the South Korean team that won the gold medal at the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia.

"These players have been under our watch, and I wanted to check them this time," Bento said at a press conference at the KFA House in Seoul. "We have been watching and evaluating many players."

With three new faces, Bento also selected veteran midfielders for the first time since he took the helm in August. Lee Chung-yong of VfL Bochum and Koo Ja-cheol of FC Augsburg returned to the national team, while Kwon Kyung-won of Tianjin Quanjian also was selected to the national team for the first time since June.

Lee is the most capped player on Bento's latest squad with 79 matches. The 30-year-old played in the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, but failed to make the final roster for this year's World Cup in Russia. He recently collected four assists in his last two matches in the German Bundesliga 2.

"I expect Lee Chung-yong to display his strength with the national team," he said. "I've known this player since even before I took the helm, and I believed that he'll be useful for this team someday."

South Korea's latest squad misses their two core players: Son Heung-min and Jang Hyun-soo.

Son, South Korea's attacking ace and team captain, will not go to Australia following an agreement between the Korea Football Association and his English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur.

The two sides previously agreed not to release Son for the November friendlies and the first two matches at the AFC Asian Cup in a trade-off for the player's participation at the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia, where South Korea eventually won the gold medal.

Jang, who had been Bento's first-choice center back, was forced to end his national team career after he was caught doctoring his community service records. The KFA on Friday handed the 27-year-old defender a lifetime ban from the national team for his misconduct.

With the two players, Newcastle United anchorman Ki Sung-yueng, Holstein Kiel midfielder Lee Jae-sung and Hellas Verona attacker Lee Seung-woo were also not selected for the November friendlies.

Bento said he excluded Ki after talking with the player, who apparently asked for rest. As for Lee Jae-sung, Bento said he decided not to call up the attacking midfielder because of injury concerns.

"Lee Jae-sung recently made his comeback for his club, but we thought it's risky to include a player who has just returned from an injury," he said. "As for Lee Seung-woo, we have good attackers who can also play in his position, and competition is fierce."

For the upcoming friendlies, Bento said he wants to check whether newcomers can mingle with existing players and adjust to the team's tactics.

"Although there are some changes in our squad, we want to keep our style of play," he said. "Whether they have national team experience or not, I want to see how we can play with these newcomers."

Bento said he also wants to test South Korea's performance away from home. His last four matches with South Korea were all played at home, and Bento's team collected two wins and two draws.

"I will check our team's performance on the road and whether the players can adjust to a new environment," he said. "At home, we played our second match 96 hours after the first one. But this time, we only have 72 hours, so I'll also check how the players can deal with the short rest time."

Bento said he also wants to test South Korea's performance away from home. His last four matches with South Korea were all played at home, and Bento's team collected two wins and two draws.

"I will check our team's performance on the road and whether the players can adjust to a new environment," he said. "At home, we played our second match 96 hours after the first one. But this time, we only have 72 hours, so I'll also check how the players can deal with the short rest time."

The following is the list of South Korean players named to the roster for friendly matches against Australia on Nov. 17 and Uzbekistan on Nov. 20. (Yonhap)