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S. Korea in full health ahead of football showdown vs. Japan: coach

All News 18:33 January 29, 2016

DOHA, Jan. 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea are in full health ahead of their men's football showdown against rival Japan, the team's head coach said Friday.

The two countries will clash in the final of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship on Saturday. The kickoff at Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha is 5:45 p.m. Saturday local time, or 11:45 p.m. Saturday in South Korea.

In the pre-match press conference on the eve of the match, South Korea coach Shin Tae-yong said he's faced with a "happy dilemma" because every player is in fine form.

"We don't have any injury to speak of after (defender) Song Ju-hun suffered a broken nose in the first group match," Shin said, referring to the player who has since returned to action. "Everyone is doing great."

The tournament also served as the Asian qualification event for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. Both countries had already secured their Olympic berths by reaching the final.

Though there doesn't seem to be much at stake for either side, Shin said he still wants to defeat the long-time regional rival for fans back home watching the match on TV late at night.

Shin also reminded the audience of South Korea's 2-0 victory over Japan in the bronze medal match at the 2012 London Olympics. It was South Korea's first Olympic medal in football, and Shin said he wants to extend the winning tradition.

"Former head coach Hong Myung-bo and his players accomplished a great feat," Shin said. "Now we have a new generation of players on hand, and we'll do the best tomorrow to keep the tradition alive."

Shin's counterpart, Makoto Teguramori, said his striker Musashi Suzuki is dealing with a groin injury and won't be available against South Korea.

The Japanese coach said he anticipates a fiercely-contested match and he will make sure the players are well prepared against South Korean attacks.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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