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(LEAD) Nat'l football team returns home after two friendlies in Europe

All News 14:21 June 07, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS coach's comments in last 6 paras, photo)

INCHEON, June 7 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean men's national football team returned home on Tuesday after splitting two friendly matches in Europe.

Led by head coach Uli Stielike, South Korea arrived at Incheon International Airport after losing to Spain 6-1 last Wednesday in Austria but beating the Czech Republic 2-1 in Prague Sunday.

These were the Taeguk Warriors' first matches against European teams since Stielike took the helm in September 2014. The two friendly matches were scheduled to help South Korea prepare for the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup starting in September.

Of the 20-man squad, only 15 came home Tuesday. Attacking midfielder Nam Tae-hee already landed in South Korea last week for his wedding on Saturday, and four players -- midfielder Jung Woo-young, defender Kim Kee-hee, goalkeepers Jung Sung-ryong and Kim Jin-hyeon -- took different flights from Prague to join their Chinese and Japanese clubs.

Yoon Bitgaram, who scored the team's opening goal against the Czechs with a free kick, arrived at the airport with the main squad, but immediately left for China to play for his club Yanbian Funde.

Stielike said that he saw both positive and negative things from the friendly matches.

"It's a good thing that we recovered our mental strength against the Czech Republic after suffering a crushing defeat to Spain," he said. "I know this will not be solved in a day or two, but our techniques were poor. I will also think about our ability to press opponents in small space."

The German claimed that it is not right to compare the two matches because Spain are stronger than the Czech Republic. Although South Korea had a big defeat against the Spaniards, Stielike said that the team's performance in the first 25 minutes was better than what they showed against the Czechs.

"Against Spain, we displayed some promising moments, but they were overshadowed by the match result," he said. "We will harmonize good things from the two matches in Europe."

Stielike's side will now have to prepare for the final regional qualification round for the World Cup. The coach said it will be difficult to determine the squad at this moment because players may be on the move during the summer. He emphasized that those who want to make the national team should be playing regularly with their clubs.

"There will be many changes (to players' status), but those who play matches regularly with their clubs will get the advantage," he said.


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