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(LEAD) S. Korea football coach mulling on final World Cup roster

All Headlines 16:50 May 02, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS more info in last 6 paras)
By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, May 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea football coach Shin Tae-yong said Wednesday he remains undecided on the exact size of the World Cup roster to be unveiled later this month.

Shin is scheduled to announce his 2018 FIFA World Cup roster on May 14, but the head coach said he is still mulling whether he should settle on 23 members only or add a couple of extra bodies for the team's training camp.

According to FIFA, the deadline to submit a 35-player preliminary roster is May 14, while the submission of the final list of 23 players is due June 4.

South Korea are in Group F with Sweden, Mexico and Germany at the World Cup in Russia.

For the 2014 World Cup, then-South Korea coach Hong Myung-bo confirmed his 23-man roster early and trained intensively with that squad before going to Brazil. For the 2010 World Cup, South Korea announced a roster with more than 23 players and dropped a few members just before the tournament.

Shin, who has been leading the team since July 2017, said he is still trying to figure out what to do with the pool of players available.

"I'm still mulling over that problem and I will probably decide it on May 14," Shin said at a press conference at the Korea Football Association (KFA) House in Seoul. "But I can't say that we might see some changes from our squad for the March friendlies."

South Korea men's national football team head coach Shin Tae-yong speaks at a press conference at the Korea Football Association (KFA) House in Seoul on May 2, 2018. (Yonhap)

Shin's side suffered two consecutive defeats in friendlies in Europe, where they had 23 players, including key members like Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur and Ki Sung-yueng of Swansea City. South Korea fell 2-1 to Northern Ireland and lost 3-2 to Poland.

With the World Cup less than 50 days away, Shin said injuries have been giving him a headache. South Korea has already lost left back Kim Jin-soo after he sustained a knee injury against Northern Ireland.

"Because of Kim Jin-soo and some other players, I haven't decided on the final roster," he said. "We can see players getting injured or having poor form at the end of the season, so that's why I'm thinking of naming additional players to the World Cup team."

South Korea will open their World Cup campaign with Sweden in Nizhny Novogorod on June 18 and face Mexico five days later in Rostov-on-Don. The Taeguk Warriors will then take on defending champions Germany in Kazan on June 27.

If Shin confirms his 23-man roster on May 14, the World Cup squad will have nearly a month to train until the first match against Sweden, but at the same time, it means their opponents will have more time to analyze them.

Shin's team will gather at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, on May 21 to prepare for two friendly matches at home. South Korea will play against Honduras on May 28 and Bosnia and Herzegovina on June 1 before flying to their pre-World Cup training in Austria.

In Austria, South Korea will face Bolivia at Tivoli Stadium in Innsbruck on June 7 and take on Senegal at Das.Goldberg Stadium in Grodig, Austria, on June 11 behind closed doors. South Korea will arrive at their World Cup base camp in St. Petersburg on June 12.

South Korea men's national football team head coach Shin Tae-yong takes part in a press conference at the Korea Football Association (KFA) House in Seoul on May 2, 2018. (Yonhap)

Shin said he is first trying to build up his 35-player preliminary list and his coaching staff is busy checking the candidates. Shin has also traveled to Japan to watch South Korean players there.

"We're basically checking every player on our radar," he said. "As for our Spanish assistant coaches, they're analyzing Mexican, Sweden players in Europe."

The 49-year-old coach said fans might have doubts when a player with poor league performance gets national team selection. He said, however, it will have nothing to do with his personal preference for the player.

"I know that there's going to be a controversy if a player with poor league performance earns selection," he said. "But I only think about how we can win against Sweden with our best players. Even if a player showed mediocre performance in the K League, I will select the player if he can help us to beat our opponents."

Shin said South Korea's World Cup preparations are in full swing and they're focusing on their first two opponents -- Sweden and Mexico. Shin added that the side has even hired a data analysis firm to keep a track of South Korean players as well as their opponents.

"We can analyze Germany based on their first two World Cup matches, so we're not currently focusing on Germany," he said. "But we're thoroughly looking into Sweden and Mexico. We'll collect everything, even personal information on the opposing players, and will provide that to our players."

Shin also appealed for strong fan support for the national team. Although his players are considered underdogs, Shin promised that they will give their best efforts on the pitch.

"I'm sure no South Korean fans want to see us losing all three matches," he said. "Whether we lose or win all three matches, I think what fans want to see from us is us giving our best. Keeping that in mind, our players must be united."


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