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Midfielder leaves nat'l team with injury

BRISBANE, Australia -- Veteran midfielder Koo Ja-cheol will leave the South Korean national team due to an injury suffered during a match in Australia, officials said Sunday.

Koo injured his lower back and right hip during South Korea's 1-1 draw with Australia in Brisbane on Saturday. And instead of playing South Korea's next match against Uzbekistan on Tuesday, Koo will return to his Bundesliga club, FC Augsburg, for precautionary reasons, team officials said.

South Korean national team midfielder Koo Ja-cheol (Yonhap)
South Korean national team midfielder Koo Ja-cheol (Yonhap)

This was Koo's first international match since the FIFA World Cup in Russia in the summer -- and his first under head coach Paulo Bento.

Koo got the starting nod but was in the midst of a mediocre game when he hurt his back and hip in the closing moments of the first half.

Koo didn't join the rest of the team in Sunday's practice and instead received treatment in the team hotel.

Team officials said Koo's injury isn't serious but they didn't want to aggravate his condition.

Koo has been particularly star-crossed this fall. For Bento's first two matches in September, Koo was not considered for the team because he was still recovering from a knee injury. Koo was selected for South Korea's next two matches in October but was cut later due to a kidney infection.

Koo's departure will leave Bento with 23 players. Before the team traveled to Australia, defender Kim Moon-hwan and forward Hwang Hee-chan were dropped from the squad with injuries of their own. (Yonhap)

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Korea Herald daum