By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Jan. 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will be without one of their most versatile players for the final camp ahead of next month's Olympic women's football qualifying matches.
The Korea Football Association (KFA) announced Friday that forward/defender Choo Hyo-joo has been dropped from the women's national team with a stress fracture in her left foot. Midfielder Jang Chang was named as Choo's replacement.
Choo, 20, is a rising star in South Korean women's football. She scored four goals in 10 matches for the under-20 national team from 2018 to 2019, and helped South Korea finish third at the Asian Football Confederation U-19 Women's Championship in October 2019. Two months later, Choo made her senior international debut.
She was also selected by head coach Colin Bell for two earlier qualifying matches for the Tokyo Olympics in February 2020, and scored a goal against Vietnam in the second of those two matches.
With the Tokyo Olympics having been postponed by a year to July 2021, South Korea's two-legged playoff series against China, with the winner punching a ticket to Tokyo, has also been pushed back from February 2020 to February this year.
Bell will open camp Monday in Gangjin, 410 kilometers south of Seoul in South Jeolla Province, and Choo was one of 26 players selected. She can also handle defensive duties and Bell listed Choo as one of his eight defenders, hoping that she could provide some offensive punch from the back while he moved other pieces around.
Choo had also missed the national team's November training camp with injury.
The 26 players will train in Gangjin through Feb. 10 and then relocate to Jeju Island for the second phase from Feb. 11 to 18.
Jeju will host the first leg of the playoff on Feb. 19, and the next match will be in Suzhou, China, on Feb. 24. The aggregate score will determine the winner.
South Korea are ranked 18th in the world, three spots below China. In 37 all-time meetings, South Korea have four wins, six draws and 27 losses against China.
Women's football joined the Olympics in 1996, and South Korea, dubbed the Taeguk Ladies, have never qualified for the event.
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