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Teen midfielder among 26 named to men's nat'l football team for East Asian tournament

All News 15:29 July 11, 2022

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, July 11 (Yonhap) -- Teenage midfielder Kang Sung-jin earned his first callup to the men's senior national team Monday, joining 25 others for an East Asian tournament kicking off in Japan later this month.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) unveiled the roster for the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) E-1 Football Championship on Monday. Coached by Paulo Bento, South Korea will face China, Hong Kong and host Japan in the four-nation, round-robin tournament from July 19 to 27.

In this file photo from March 29, 2022, Kang Sung-jin of South Korea celebrates after scoring a goal against Indonesia in the teams' under-19 men's football friendly match at DGB Daegu Bank Park in Daegu, 290 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

In this file photo from March 29, 2022, Kang Sung-jin of South Korea celebrates after scoring a goal against Indonesia in the teams' under-19 men's football friendly match at DGB Daegu Bank Park in Daegu, 290 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Bento mostly named players based in South Korea's K League, with a couple of players from the Chinese and Japanese leagues also getting the call. Because this tournament doesn't fall during an official FIFA international window, clubs aren't obligated to release their players for the occasion -- hence the absence of Europe-based stars.

The EAFF event will be an opportunity for those Asia-based players to state their case for inclusion on the FIFA World Cup team in November. There will be precious few spots available for them, as several European league players, such as Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur, are expected to make up the bulk of the squad.

Kang, the 19-year-old midfielder for FC Seoul, will be the youngest South Korean player at the EAFF tournament. He is one of five players to receive a senior international callup for the first time.

Kang had previously appeared in seven matches for the under-17 national team and one match for the under-20 squad.

Another rookie, Suwon FC midfielder Lee Ki-hyuk, is even rawer than Kang, with no international appearance in any age group previously.

Lee Ki-hyuk of Suwon FC (L) and Lee Sang-min of FC Seoul battle for the ball during the clubs' K League 1 match at Suwon Stadium in Suwon, 35 kilometers south of Seoul, on July 10, 2022, in this photo provided by the Korea Professional Football League. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Lee Ki-hyuk of Suwon FC (L) and Lee Sang-min of FC Seoul battle for the ball during the clubs' K League 1 match at Suwon Stadium in Suwon, 35 kilometers south of Seoul, on July 10, 2022, in this photo provided by the Korea Professional Football League. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The only two overseas-based players are Shandong Taishan FC's Son Jun-ho and Gamba Osaka's Kwon Kyung-won. While Kwon has been a consistent presence for Bento's defense corps, Son, the 2020 K League 1 MVP for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, earned his first callup since September last year.

Also making the team is midfielder Hwang In-beom, whose temporary contract with FC Seoul expired at the end of last month and whose status with the original Russian club, Rubin Kazan, is in limbo following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. He has been a go-to midfielder on Bento's watch.

Other players with international experience are: Ulsan Hyundai FC goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo, Ulsan center back Kim Young-gwon and Gimcheon Sangmu FC midfielder Kwon Chang-hoon. Two emerging attackers, Cho Gue-sung of Gimcheon and Cho Young-wook of FC Seoul, are the only two forwards for South Korea.

South Korea will go for their fourth consecutive EAFF title and their sixth overall in nine tries.

Some members of the national team will be part of Team K League, which will face Tottenham Hotspur in an exhibition match in Seoul on Wednesday. All 12 K League 1 clubs will play Saturday, and the national team will fly to Japan on Sunday without holding training camp here.

In this file photo from June 22, 2022, Hwang In-beom of FC Seoul (R) dribbles the ball against Ulsan Hyundai FC during the clubs' K League 1 match at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul. (Yonhap)

In this file photo from June 22, 2022, Hwang In-beom of FC Seoul (R) dribbles the ball against Ulsan Hyundai FC during the clubs' K League 1 match at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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