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(LEAD) S. Korea, Denmark play to 1-1 draw in Olympic football prep tournament

All News 23:14 June 06, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS details throughout, coach's comment in last 10 paras)
By Joo Kyung-don

BUCHEON, South Korea, June 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Denmark played to a 1-1 draw in their final match at an Olympic football prep tournament on Monday.

A goal by Moon Chang-jin put South Korea on the verge of victory, but an added-time equalizer by Danish forward Nicolai Brock-Madsen forced the hosts to settle for their second draw at the four-nation tournament.

Nigeria and Honduras also competed here: earlier Monday, Nigeria defeated Honduras 3-1.

South Korea wrapped up the tournament as the runners-up with a win and two draws. The hosts on Thursday edged Nigeria 1-0 and had a 2-2 draw against Honduras on Saturday. Denmark won the event with two wins and a draw.

Nigeria finished third after a win and two losses, followed by Honduras, which collected a draw and two losses.

Gearing up for the Rio de Janeiro Summer Games, South Korea invited Nigeria, Denmark and Honduras for the tournament as a warm-up for players under 23. All four participants have already qualified for the Rio Games, where 16 teams will compete in men's football in August.

At Bucheon Stadium in Bucheon, 24 kilometers west of Seoul, South Korea started the match with a 4-2-3-1 formation, playing 190-centimeter striker Kim Hyun up front. Attacking midfielder Ryu Seung-woo, who played with the German side Arminia Bielefeld last season, had the first shot off in the fourth minute, but his right-foot effort went over the net.

Denmark's first shot came in the 22nd when forward Robert Skov struck with his left foot, but his attempt went left of the goalkeeper Gu Sung-yun. The visitors then made their first substitution in the 26th, with striker Nicolai Brock-Madsen coming on for midfielder Kasper Nielsen.

South Korea came close to scoring when midfielder Kim Seung-jun headed down Moon's corner kick in the 32nd, but his effort was denied by Jeppe Hojbjerg. Moon then struck with his left foot in the box in the 35th, but it went straight to the goalkeeper.

Danish forward Frederik Borsting stung Gu's palms with his left-footed shot from the distance in the 36th. But three minutes later, South Koreans finally broke the deadlock when Moon slotted the ball into the net after receiving a pass from Kim Seung-jun to finish their counterattack.

In the second half, South Koreans pushed forward with Moon and half-time substitute Hwang Hee-chan, who came in for Kim Hyun. But Moon's effort in the 49th was deflected by a defender out of play, and he had another shot in the 50th saved by Hojbjerg.

Denmark, which poured in 10 goals in their previous two matches against Nigeria and Honduras, slowly found their attacking rhythm with team captain Lasse Vigen getting in on the action in the 60th, though he airmailed one over the net. In the 75th, substitute Martin Vingaard took a right-footed shot, but it went wide.

While 14,690 home fans at the stadium were ready to celebrate a win, Denmark stunned South Korea in stoppage time when Brock-Madsen converted a pass from Vingaard to level the score. The 23-year-old forward mis-hit the cross and it went up in the air toward the net, but goalkeeper Gu failed to clear the ball.

South Korean head coach Shin Tae-yong said it was a shame the team got a draw against Denmark, because he was satisfied with their overall performance against them.

"Today, our players played the game that I wanted," Shin said. "Our tempo in attacks, defensive lines and passes were good. I'm satisfied with our performance."

Shin previously said he wanted to identify the team's shortcomings and test players at the tournament. He added that Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors defender Choi Kyou-baek, who scored the winning goal against Nigeria, shined the brightest at the event.

When asked about what South Korea have learned from the tournament, Shin said he feels he can have multiple strategic options for the Summer Games. South Korea have been paired with Germany, Fiji and Mexico in Group C.

"Instead of finding our problems through the tournament, I realized that this team can display different styles of the game depending on the players on the pitch," he said. "The tournament has boosted our players' confidence that they can show their style of play against whichever opponents."

South Korea will announce their 18-man squad for the Olympics on June 27. Shin, however, said that he still feels bothered that the wild card situation isn't going as well as he planned.

The men's Olympic football tournament of 16 nations is open to players under the age of 23, but teams can also field up to three players who are over the age limit, known as wild cards. Since Olympic football is not organized by FIFA, professional clubs are not mandated to release players over 23 for the Olympics, and those who want to participate in the quadrennial event need to have permission from their clubs.

Shin said he will use all three wild cards for the Olympics. Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min and Guangzhou R&F defender Jang Hyun-soo were previously tapped as two wild card candidates -- although both have not received permission from their clubs yet -- and Shin has yet to unveil the final candidate. The coach did say the remaining spot will not be given to a goalkeeper.

"My plan for the Olympic squad is about 80 to 90 percent complete," he said. "I have never thought about going to the Olympics without the wild cards."

Shin said he wants to train early with the wild card members and existing players, but lamented that the talks with the domestic and foreign clubs are sluggish. He insisted that South Korea can show better performance if they can gather the players quickly after the final squad announcement.

"I was originally planning to call up our players on July 4, but the domestic league and cup schedules are making it difficult to happen," he said. "We saw through this tournament that our players have reduced their pass mistakes as they played on. I want to have some time for preparation so that our players can create their plays just by looking at each other's faces."


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