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Roster for World Cup training camp revealed

Jan 16,2018
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Shin Tae-yong, head coach of the Korean men’s football team, speaks at a news conference at the Korea Football Association House in Seoul on Monday. [YONHAP]
The country’s governing body for football on Monday unveiled the national team roster for a pre-World Cup training camp in Turkey later this month.

The Korea Football Association said 24 players will travel to Antalya, Turkey, where the men’s national team will have two weeks of training starting next Monday. During their stay, Korea, led by Coach Shin Tae-yong, will play friendly matches with Moldova, Jamaica and Latvia.

Shin’s latest squad is mainly comprised of players who helped Korea’s title defense at the East Asian Football Federation’s E-1 Football Championship last month. The roster is headlined by reigning Korean pro football MVP Lee Jae-sung and includes 16 players who won the regional title.

Eight players who didn’t play at the E-1 Football Championship made the team this time. Among them, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors midfielder Son Jun-ho, who had the most assists in the K League Classic last year, earned his first national team call-up.

“In Turkey, I want to focus on new faces and exciting players playing together to execute tactics smoothly,” Shin said at a news conference in Seoul. “You never know what’s going to happen before the World Cup, so we need to have enough of a talent pool.”

Players who are making a national team comeback include center back Kim Young-gwon of Guangzhou Evergrande and goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu of Vissel Kobe.

The squad for the camp in Turkey doesn’t include Europe-based players like Tottenham Hotspur attacker Son Heung-min and longtime national team captain Ki Sung-yueng of Swansea City, since upcoming contests don’t fall within FIFA’s international match calendar.

Other key players, such as Yeom Ki-hun of the Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Kwon Kyung-won of Tianjin Quanjian, were also left out because their respective clubs need to play Asian Football Confederation’s Champions League playoff matches on Jan. 30.

The Turkey camp will be one of the final opportunities for home-based players to make their World Cup case, as Korea typically selects Europe-based players ahead of them. Shin, however, said that K League-based players who are not on the roster should not feel disappointed.

“The national team door is always open,” he said. “After the K League kicks off its new season in March, our coaches will look for new faces and we may find a good player. We’re open because existing players can get injured or give poor performances later.”

Shin said he decided not to pick former national team stars Park Joo-ho and Hong Jeong-ho. Both defenders recently returned to the K League after they struggled to win playing time with overseas clubs.

“They’re good players, but it doesn’t make sense to pick them just because they switched teams,” he said. “If they can show they’re competitive in the K League, then I may consider calling them back to the national team.”

Korea is paired with defending champion Germany as well as Mexico and Sweden in Group F at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

In Turkey, Shin said the national team will have a new technical assistant who will handle advance scouting on Korea’s group stage opponents at the World Cup.

“We’ll have a technical coach during the Turkey camp, but it’s not confirmed whether this person will be with us at the World Cup,” he said. “We’ll test this coach during our stay in Turkey and if we’re not satisfied, we will find a new person.”

When asked about the three tune-up matches that Korea will play in Turkey, Shin said they don’t have a special meaning to him.

“I knew we’re not going to find strong opponents during that period, so I just asked the KFA to arrange at least three matches so that we can test the players,” he said. “What really matters is that our efforts help the players adjust to our tactics and style of play.”

Yonhap