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Hong unhappy with U23 squad

Korean U23 team manager Hong Myung-bo has admitted that he is unhappy with his current squad despite watching his side defeat Oman 3-1 in a home friendly Wednesday.

Korea came back from behind to win the game at Gangneung Stadium thanks to defender Hwang Do-yeon and striker Bae Chun-suk.

The host pressured Oman in the first 20 minutes but the Oman side fought back with counterattacks, taking a lead in the 23rd minute thanks to Hassan Salim Al Hadri’s strike. But Hwang scored just two minutes after break and Bae struck twice in the second half to earn an important victory for the team ahead of their 2012 London Olympics qualifier later this month.

Despite the win, the manager revealed his worries about the upcoming Asian qualifier.

“We have no time to prepare for the qualifier,” Hong said after the game.
Korea U23 head coach Hong Myung-bo gives instructions to his team. (Yonhap News)
Korea U23 head coach Hong Myung-bo gives instructions to his team. (Yonhap News)

Hong’s U23 team is set to play home and away matches against Jordan in their Asian qualifier for the 2012 Olympics. The first of their two matches is scheduled on June 19 at the Seoul World Cup Stadium. The winner will advance to the final qualification round, which begins in September.

In preparations for the upcoming games, Hong wanted to put his best squad available on Wednesday. But, rather disappointingly, he was only able to field his reserve side as some of his key players were training with the senior team.

“This is our biggest problem. We missed so many players. Most of the players today won’t be playing on the 19th,” he said.

The senior national team is also scheduled to play against Serbia on Friday and Ghana on June 7. And manager Cho Kwang-rae has picked some young talents from the U23 team, including Ji Dong-won, midfielder Koo Ja-cheol and Kim Bo-kyung for the two home friendlies.

Cho also included defender Hong Jeong-ho, Kim Young-kwon and midfielder Yoon Bitgara from the U23 side, noting that he would take the strongest available players for the friendlies in preparation for 2014 World Cup qualifications, which start in September. The dilemma is that the players cannot play for the two sides simultaneously.

Although the 20-year-old striker Ji and 22-year-old midfielder Kim were featured in the Wednesday game, the other young players were not able to join Hong’s side.

The former national team captain Hong admitted that he felt a lot of pressure preparing for the London Olympic qualifier.

“I feel pressure as we have little time to train and play together before the game,” he said.

Meanwhile, hard-nosed manager Cho insisted that he would take the strongest available players for the home friendlies in preparation for 2014 World Cup qualifications, which start in September. Cho and his squad, including 22-year-old Koo of Wolfsburg, play Serbia at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Friday.

By Oh Kyu-wook (596story@heraldcorp.com)
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