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Striker dropped from S. Korea's squad for World Cup qualifiers

All Headlines 19:09 August 24, 2016

SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korean striker Suk Hyun-jun has been dropped from the country's football squad for the final round of Asian qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup next month, the nation's football governing body announced Wednesday.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) said head coach Uli Stielike decided to exclude Suk from their 21-man squad so that he can quickly adapt to his new club Trabzonspor. The KFA added Stielike will not select a replacement for Suk.

South Korea, ranked 48th in the latest FIFA world rankings, will host No. 78 China at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Sept. 1 and face No. 105 Syria five days later on the road. Suk was supposed to play only against Syria, which was originally scheduled to be played in Lebanon due to Syria's civil war.

However, the venue for the match between South Korea and Syria was recently changed from Lebanon to Macau for security reasons. For Suk, who moved to the Turkish club earlier this month on loan from Portuguese side FC Porto, the change of the venue means that he will have a longer travel time.

Suk didn't have enough time to adapt to his new club during this offseason because he competed at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics where South Korea reached the quarterfinals.

"The distance between Turkey and Macau is too far," the KFA said. "Since Suk needs to adapt to his new club, we decided not to call him up."

Stielike already said Tottenham Hotspur attacker Son Heung-min will only play against China. The absence of Son and Suk increases the chances of the 20-year-old forward Hwang Hee-chan, who received his first call-up to the senior team, starting against Syria. Hwang, who plays for Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg, showed impressive performance at the Rio Games and was praised by Stielike for his speed and skills.

For the final regional qualification, where 12 teams compete, South Korea are grouped with Iran, Uzbekistan, China, Qatar and Syria in Group A. The players will have their first practice at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul, next Monday.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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