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S. Korea exploring football friendlies in Europe in Nov.

All News 17:38 September 12, 2020

SEOUL, Sept. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea may travel to Europe for men's football friendlies during an international match window in November, a national team official said Saturday.

Because of travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, the South Korean men's national football team hasn't played an official match in 2020.

An official with the Korea Football Association (KFA) said the governing body is "exploring possibilities" of visiting a European country with fewer COVID-19 restrictions to play two friendly matches during the FIFA international match window of Nov. 9-17.

In this file photo from Dec. 18, 2019, members of the South Korean men's national football team celebrate their title at the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) E-1 Football Championship at Busan Asiad Main Stadium in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

"With the mandatory two-week quarantine period for international arrivals into Korea, it'll be virtually impossible for us to host friendly matches here," the KFA official said. "We're trying to see if we could maybe play away matches in some European countries."

Though South Korea may travel to Europe, their opponents may not necessarily be from that continent. The biennial UEFA Nations League tournament will be in full swing in November.

"We're considering teams from Africa, South America, or Central and North America," the KFA official said. "Most of the key players from those countries play for clubs in Europe, and so they would prefer to play friendlies in Europe, too."

One potential hurdle is the scheduling conflict with clubs in the top-flight K League 1. Four teams from the league, Ulsan Hyundai FC, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Suwon Samsung Bluewings and FC Seoul, are scheduled to resume their group stage action in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League between Nov. 15 and Dec. 13. Ulsan and Jeonbuk, being the two best clubs so far this season, are expected to have a few key players called up for the national team duty, too.

In this file photo from May 8, 2020, Paulo Bento, head coach of the South Korean men's national football team, watches a K League 1 match between Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Suwon Samsung Bluewings at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

South Korea last played in December 2019 at the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) E-1 Football Championship in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

Coached by Paulo Bento, the senior national squad is scheduled to face the under-23 men's team in two exhibition matches during the Oct. 5-13 FIFA window.

The status of those matches is up in the air, though. The K League 1 is likely to announce changes to its calendar after the AFC's decision from Thursday to move Champions League restart dates. The final stretch of the K League 1 season will likely overlap with the Oct. 5-13 period.

"We understand completely where the K League 1 teams come from," the KFA official said. "We'll sit down next week and review the situation."

This image, provided by the Korea Football Association on July 24, 2020, shows Paulo Bento (L), head coach of the South Korean men's senior national football team, and Kim Hak-bum, who coaches the men's under-23 national football team. These two teams are scheduled to play two tuneup matches during the FIFA international match window of Oct. 5-13. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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