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Olympic football team to work on defense in Brazil

All News 13:43 July 18, 2016

By Joo Kyung-don

INCHEON, July 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Olympic football team boss Shin Tae-yong on Monday said his players will focus on enhancing their defensive play when they arrive in Brazil for the Summer Games.

South Korea have been paired in Group C with Fiji, Germany and Mexico at the men's football tournament of the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics. They departed for Brazil Monday and will land in Sao Paulo, the site of the team's training camp, the following day.

"In the tournament, you need to have strong defense to collect good results," Shin said at Incheon International Airport. "But you know the team's defensive play can't be built in a day."

Shin's side didn't train in South Korea after the final squad was announced, because of conflicting schedules among the players. The coach said he just went through videos of their opponents here.

Among the 18 players on the final roster, 14 will first head to Brazil with the coaching staff.

Four players -- FC Red Bull Salzburg striker Hwang Hee-chan, Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min, Guangzhou R&F defender Jang Hyun-soo and Vegalta Sendai midfielder Kim Min-tae -- will join the squad separately following their clubs' matches. Hwang will arrive in Brazil on Thursday, followed by Jang four days later and Son on July 31.

Kim, who joined the squad after replacing injured defender Song Ju-hun on Sunday, will land in Brazil on Wednesday after getting vaccinations.

Shin said the absence of Song will not be a big problem because he believes that other players will fill his void successfully. The coach added the coaching staff will check the players' condition thoroughly so that they can remain in their best form throughout the tournament. The Korea Football Association (KFA) last week said it hired Brazilian physical trainer Luis Flavio to help with the team's training program in Brazil.

"Once we arrive there, we will check our players' fitness and determine their training regiment," Shin said. "We will also work on our 'wild-card' players to build up team play with their young teammates quickly."

South Korea will play two friendly matches in Sao Paulo. They will face Iraq on Sunday (local time) behind closed doors and take on Sweden five days later before moving to Salvador on July 30.

At the Summer Games, South Korea are scheduled to open their campaign against Fiji on Aug. 4 in Salvador and will face Germany three days later, also in Salvador. The group final will be against Mexico on Aug. 10 in Brasilia.

The players said they are ready to deliver their best performances on the pitch.

FC Porto striker Suk Hyun-jun, who is one of the three wild-card players on the squad, along with Son and Jang, said he is going to Brazil with big expectations. 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.

"I have little pressure, but at the same time, I'm thrilled and have big expectations for going to Rio," Suk said. "Everyone wants to win the gold medal, and although doing so isn't easy, we will try our utmost there."

Suk, who is the oldest player on the squad at 25, said he talked with younger teammates on Sunday and felt camaraderie with them. Suk is also considered one of the candidates to wear the captain's armband during the Olympics.

"We had good conversations," he said. "I will show aggressive moves upfront to create chances for my teammates."

Suwon Samsung Bluewings midfielder Kwon Chang-hoon said he feels good and is looking forward to playing with his teammates in Brazil.

"I know we are not going to Brazil on vacation," he said. "It is true that we didn't have much training to build up our team play, but we will prepare sufficiently there."

Kwon said since all the players are making their Olympic debut, they are determined to put forth their best efforts in their once-in-a-lifetime moment. He added that South Korea's biggest strength is attacking midfielders who can penetrate opponents' defense and score goals.

"I did see Germany's squad, but I don't have any thoughts about it one way or the other," he said. "If we can execute the coach's tactics, we will do fine."

South Korea are looking for their second consecutive Olympic medal in football. At the 2012 London Games, the country beat archrival Japan for bronze.


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