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(Asian Cup) S. Korea to call up Hellas Verona attacker to replace injured forward

All News 16:13 January 06, 2019

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 6 (Yonhap) -- Hellas Verona attacker Lee Seung-woo will join the South Korean squad for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup to replace an injured forward, the national football governing body said Sunday.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) said Lee will replace Gwangju FC forward Na Sang-ho, who is recovering from a right knee injury, and will play for the South Korean national football team at the Asian Cup.

"Head coach Paulo Bento decided to call up Lee for Na," a KFA official said. "We will ask Hellas Verona when it can release Lee."

Under the AFC rule, a participating team at the Asian Cup can exclude an injured player and select his replacement from its 50-man preliminary roster until six hours before its first match kickoff time at the tournament.

South Korea will play their Group C opening match against the Philippines at Al-Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, on Monday.

This file photo taken on Oct. 10, 2018, shows South Korea national football team attacking midfielder Lee Seung-woo training at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Lee, who turned 21 on Sunday, failed to make Bento's 23-man squad for the Asian Cup that was announced on Dec. 20. But the situation changed after Na, who was the top scorer in the K League 2 with 16 goals last season, injured his right knee during the national team training in Abu Dhabi on Dec. 28.

Na was able to join training from Friday, but Bento apparently decided that the 22-year-old is not fit for the tournament that will run until Feb. 1. He will return to South Korea later this week.

Lee, a youth product of FC Barcelona, played at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and earned a national team spot for South Korea's first four matches under Bento, who took the helm in August.

However, he was excluded from South Korea's roster for the friendly matches in Australia in November. Bento then said South Korea have lots of skillful and experienced players who play Lee's position, adding that the Verona attacker needs to display a good performance with his Italian club.

Lee struggled to get off the bench early in the season, but he has been in good form in recent weeks after starting in Verona's last six matches in the Serie B. He scored his first goal of the season last Sunday against Foggia.

Lee has seven caps with South Korea, but has yet to score a goal.

This file photo taken on Sept. 7, 2018, shows South Korea national football team head coach Paulo Bento (L) giving instructions to Lee Seung-woo during his team's international friendly match against Costa Rica in Goyang, north of Seoul. (Yonhap)


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