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(2nd LD) Two players injured as S. Korea fall to Iraq in Olympic football prep

All News 11:55 July 25, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS details on injuries in para 3)

SAO PAULO, July 24 (Yonhap) -- Two players suffered injuries as South Korea fell to Iraq 1-0 on Sunday in a tune-up match before the men's Olympic football tournament.

Midfielder Lee Chan-dong and forward Suk Hyun-jun both left the unofficial contest at Bourbon Atibaia Convention & Spa Resort after taking hard tackles, and they will have X-rays taken at a nearby hospital Monday.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) said Suk hurt his ribs, while Lee came down with a right ankle injury.

The match is one of two South Korea will play before the start of the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics next month. They will next play Sweden, also in Sao Paulo, on Friday.

South Korea, the reigning bronze medalists making their eighth straight Olympic appearance, have been paired with Fiji, Germany and Mexico in Group C.

Head coach Shin Tae-yong started Suk -- one of three "wild cards," who are overage players on the under-23 squad -- as his lone striker, backed up by three attacking midfielders. He deployed two defensive midfielders and four defensive backs, with Gu Sung-yun starting in goal.

South Korea went down just 15 minutes into the match and never recovered. Midfielders Moon Chang-jin and Ryu Seung-woo tried to rally South Korea with shots early in the second half, but the team failed to get on the board against the tough Iraqi defense.

Suk went down on the pitch after getting tackled early in the match. He was lifted for defensive back Kim Min-tae but was able to walk off the field on his own.

Then late in the opening half, Lee Chan-dong appeared to hurt his right leg in a battle for a loose ball. He iced the leg after midfielder Lee Chang-min replaced him.

"We seemed to be a bit intimidated by Iraq's physical play in the first half, and we didn't play our game," Shin said. "I was more satisfied with the second half."

Shin added he was concerned about the two injured players because sitting out practices will affect their conditioning.

"I wanted Suk to play the full 90 minutes against both Iraq and Sweden," the coach said. "I don't know what I'd do (without him) with just 18 players on this team."

Shin said his offensive players weren't exactly in sync with each other but their chemistry will eventually improve.

"We'll be sticking to our game plan until the first match against Fiji (on Aug. 4)," he added. "If we keep building up, I believe we will have positive results."

Shin didn't have his full 18-man squad, as some players based in foreign leagues are scheduled to join the rest later because of their club commitments. Guangzhou R&F defender Jang Hyun-soo is set to arrive Monday, and Shin said he will give him some rest before putting him through practice because he has played in nine matches this month already.

South Korean players were hard on themselves afterward, with midfielder Moon Chang-jin saying they played "a really bad game."

"The first one always seems to be the most difficult one," he said. "We have to be better prepared against Sweden."

Moon said the opponents' hard-nosed style took him and his teammates off their game.

"We thrive in the passing game, but we lost control of the ball often and gave up a lot of breakaways," he added. "Against Sweden, we'll have to be better organized on offense."


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