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Park Ji-sung says health key for S. Korea in tough World Cup group

All Headlines 03:18 December 02, 2017

SEOUL, Dec. 2 (Yonhap) -- Former Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung said Saturday South Korean players need to focus on staying healthy to take on tough opponents at next year's FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Park, former South Korean captain who hung up his boots in 2014, attended the World Cup draw ceremony at State Kremlin Palace in Moscow on Friday.

The 36-year-old saw his home country drawn into a daunting group that featured defending champions Germany, the North, Central, and the North, Central American and Caribbean qualifying tournament winners Mexico, and Sweden, which beat football giants Italy in the European World Cup qualifying playoffs.

Park, who now works as chief of the youth football department at the Korea Football Association (KFA), said South Koreans need to prepare thoroughly against three teams at the World Cup.

"What's really important is how the players prepare for the tournament as a team without getting injured," Park said through the KFA. "I hope my country can display their best performance possible at the World Cup."

Park, a member of the 2002 World Cup semifinalists South Korean team, said the players first need to look for their health and fitness even when they're away from the national team.

"The players will not have much time practicing together on the national team," he said. "I think it's important for the players to stay fit and avoid injuries when they're playing with their respective clubs."

Park is considered one of the top South Korean footballers of his generation. Renowned for his work rate on the pitch, he represented South Korea at three straight FIFA World Cups starting in 2002, and scored a goal in all three.

Park, who also had stints with PSV Eindhoven and Queens Park Rangers, scored 13 goals in 100 caps for South Korea.

In this file photo taken on Aug. 4, 2017, former South Korean football player Park Ji-sung speaks at a press conference in Seoul after he was appointed as an honorary ambassador for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr
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