SPORTS

Nat'l football team departs for friendlies in Australia

By Yonhap
  • Published : Nov 12, 2018 - 20:16
  • Updated : Nov 12, 2018 - 20:18

INCHEON -- The South Korean national football team departed for Australia on Monday for two upcoming friendly matches. 

South Korea, led by head coach Paulo Bento, will play against Australia on Saturday and take on Uzbekistan on Nov. 20. Both matches will be played in Brisbane, Australia.

Bento announced his 26-man squad last week, but only 25 will be in Australia. Right back Kim Moon-hwan was excluded from the roster earlier Monday due to a left thigh injury.

Twenty of the players took a flight from Incheon International Airport with Bento and his coaching staff. Jung Seung-hyun, Lee Chung-yong, Koo Ja-cheol, Kim Jung-min and Hwang Hee-chan, who all play in overseas, will travel to Australia separately and join the team later. The two friendlies are tune-ups for the 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates, which kicks off two months later. 

South Korea's national football team (Yonhap)

South Korea will also be playing their first away matches since Bento took the helm in August. Bento's side have so far collected two wins and two draws from friendly matches held at home.

Bento said he will test his tactics with new faces as some of the key players are missing. Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min and Newcastle United midfielder Ki Sung-yueng were not selected for the November friendlies. FC Tokyo defender Jang Hyun-soo was recently slapped with a lifetime ban from the national team after he was caught doctoring his community service records.

"It's going to be a good opportunity to test new players and those who haven't played much for the national team," Bento said to reporters at Incheon International Airport before departing for Australia. "We want to make the best team in the best way possible."

South Korea, 53rd in the latest FIFA rankings, trail with seven wins, 10 draws and nine losses against 42nd-ranked Australia.

South Korea have a dominant record against 94th-ranked Uzbekistan with 10 wins, four draws and one loss. (Yonhap)