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Taeguk Warriors hope to rebound against Brazil

Nov 19,2019
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The Korean men’s football team trains at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, ahead of a friendly match against world No. 3 Brazil. [YONHAP]
Coming off a disappointing draw against an underdog opponent in a World Cup qualifier last week, Korea will face an even tougher task in a friendly match against Brazil today.

The match at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi will kick off at 5:30 p.m., or 10:30 p.m. in Korea.

It will be part of the global tour for world No. 3 Brazil, which lost to Argentina 1-0 last week in Saudi Arabia.

Korea, ranked 39th, have one victory and four losses against Brazil, the lone win coming in March 1999 in Seoul.

The most recent showdown came in Seoul in October 2013, when Korea lost 2-0.

Neymar, perhaps the biggest Brazilian star today, is not on the team for the tour, as he’s nursing a hamstring injury. But other big names, such as Philippe Coutinho of Bayern Munich, Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City and Roberto Firmino of Liverpool, will make the trip to Abu Dhabi.

And Korea will be up against a hungry Brazil team, which has gone five matches without a win, with three draws and two losses.

Captained by Tottenham Hotspur attacking ace Son Heung-min, Korea will look to bounce back from a scoreless draw against Lebanon last Thursday in the second round of the Asian qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The match in Beirut was played behind closed doors for safety reasons amid nationwide anti-government protests in Lebanon. It was the second straight away World Cup qualifying match that South Korea played with no spectators - the first one being in Pyongyang against North Korea on Oct. 15 - and also the Taeguk Warriors’ second straight 0-0 draw.

Son will once again be looked upon as the key piece to the offense. Though Son has been scoring at a decent pace with the Spurs, he has just two goals in his 11 international matches in 2019.

At the other end, Korean defenders will have to step up to keep the Brazilians at bay.

Korea has not yet allowed a goal in four matches in the World Cup qualifying campaign. But then again, Korea has yet to take on a top-10 opponent in 2019, and Colombia, currently No. 10, were in 12th place in the FIFA rankings when Korea beat them 2-1 in a March friendly.

After a series of World Cup qualifiers against overmatched Asian opponents, Korean goalkeepers will finally get to work up a sweat in the net.

All signs point to this being a difficult match for Korea, to say the least, but forward/attacking midfielder Hwang Hee-chan said he won’t be intimidated against Brazil.

“They’re the best team in the world, but I am not scared of them,” Hwang said. “We have our own strengths, and we’ll try to capitalize on those.”

Yonhap