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(LEAD) S. Korea ready to show off talents vs. Spain in football friendly: coach

All News 08:26 June 01, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS more comments from para 12, photo)

Salzburg, Austria, May 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korean footballers are ready to show off their talents against Spain despite having made an exhausting trip to reach the match site, head coach Uli Stielike said Tuesday.

The friendly match between the 54th-ranked South Korea and No. 6 Spain will kick off at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Red Bull Arena in Salzburg, Austria, which will be 11:30 p.m. Wednesday in Seoul. It will be the first of South Korea's two friendlies in Europe. South Korea next take on the No. 29 Czech Republic on Sunday in Prague.

Spain will be the first European opponent for South Korea under Stielike, who took the helm in September 2014. The German coach said South Korean players should take advantage of playing against football powerhouses like Spain.

"I want our players to show what Korean football is," Stielike said. "There are no Korean footballers in the Spanish Primera Liga. In the future, I hope I can travel to Spain to check on our players."

Stielike added the match will also be a big challenge for South Korea, which have never beaten Spain in their previous five meetings. South Korea have marked only two draws and three losses against Spain, with their latest meeting a 4-1 loss in May 2012 in Bern, Switzerland.

He said it is an honor to face Spain, which triumphed at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and won two straight European football championship in 2008 and 2012, and he's also excited about the match.

"Spain have been the world's best team for the last 10 years," he said. "Spain's strength is that not only a few players but every player is talented."

Stielike, however, said South Korea will be ready to display their skills against Spain although their players had a long trip to get here. The coach brought 20 players for the two matches in Europe, but some of them missed the team's first training session as they had to catch flights after playing in their league matches over the weekend.

"The result will be obvious if we allow them space and let them possess the ball," he said. "We must defend actively by pushing up the defensive line."

Stielike said he watched Spain's 3-1 friendly victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina on Sunday and pointed out Spain had an advantage in the second half after a Bosnian player was sent off.

"(Spain's friendly against Bosnia) is just a reference to us, " he said. "Tomorrow, we are going to have a different match."

South Korean captain Ki Sung-yueng said the players know the importance of the match and will put forth their utmost effort on the pitch.

"We will play like what we've been doing," Ki said. "Regardless of the result, I think we can learn lots of things from this match."

The 27-year-old Swansea City midfielder said the match is also important for South Korea's road to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. South Korea will enter the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in September.

"In the past, people just assumed we'd lose if we played teams like Spain," he said. "But in order to have a good result in the World Cup, we must play a tight game against Spain even if we can't win."

Spanish boss Vicente Del Bosque said South Korea play interesting football. The 65-year-old is also a friend of Stielike's, having played with him for Real Madrid in the late 1970s.

"They have good players who are physically strong and can create dangerous situation in attacks," he said. "They are dynamic and have made a big progress in recent years."

Spain are preparing for the 2016 UEFA European Championship in France that runs from June 10 to July 10. Against South Korea, they are not likely to start players from Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, which played in the UEFA Champions League final over the weekend, but will still have players from Spanish league winners FC Barcelona. Spain announced their final 23-man squad for Euro 2016 on Tuesday night, dropping midfielders Saul Niguez of Atletico Madrid and Isco of Real Madrid from their provisional squad.


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