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Stielike names national team squad for 2018 World Cup

Posted August. 23, 2016 06:57,   

Updated August. 23, 2016 07:04

The Olympic National Football Team of South Korea failed to win a back-to-back medal in Rio de Janeiro. They hit a snag that was Honduras in the quarter-final round in spite of using the three “Wild Cards,” including Son Heung-min (24·Tottenham Hotspur), Seok Hyeon-jun (25·Trabzonspor), and Jang Hyeon-su (25·Guangzhou R&F). Team Korea will have to forget about the past and start working towards the final preliminary round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. And that is probably why Head Coach Uli Stielike (62) kept the three wild card players on the first team squad for the World Cup games in Russia.

Stielike announced Monday the list of players, who will play in the first and second legs of the final preliminary round in Asia for the 2018 Russia World Cup. The three players from the Olympic squad stayed on the same list that was announced on May 23 before the friendly matches with Spain and the Czech Republic. Among the Olympic players, Hwang Hui-chan (20·Salzburg) joined the A-team list for the first time. “I’ve watched all four games during the Olympic games, and among the 18 players, only two – Jang Hyeon-su and Hwang Hui-chan – showed off consistent performance" the head coach said in an interview. "In particular, Hwang is a kind of player who can create great moves with sheer speed and skills even without back space. That's why I chose him.”

In other words, the performance that Son Heung-min or Seok Hyeon-jun showed during the Olympics was not exactly consistent. Nevertheless, the two players made the first team’s squad. “I know that Son is under fire for his mistake during the game against Honduras, but it wasn’t entirely his fault. While he failed to seize a chance to find the net, he was threatening enough. A bit of tendency to depend on personal skills was seen during the game, but it is an issue that can be solved through talks,” said Stielike, taking side with the Tottenham forward. As for Seok Hyeon-jun, the head coach said, “He will need time for adjustment as he was recently transferred from Portugal to Turkey as a hired player. As arranged with his team, Son will play in a single national match in September against China, and Seok will join in the second match against Syria.”

When asked the reason behind including Lee Chung-yong (28·Crystal Palace), who was excluded from the list in May, Stielike said, “Back then, he was not allowed many chances to play in his team, but recently, Lee has appeared in two games in a row, including the season opener. Now, there is no reason not to hire him.” Among the 21 players who made the squad this time, 18 are playing in foreign leagues, with seven in Europe, five in Japan, five in China, and one in the Middle East. “In the match against Spain in June, our performance was less than satisfactory with goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon (29·Cerezo Osaka) allowing six goal, but anything can happen in a football match," Stielike added. "I hope that the players will feel at home. I would not hold them accountable for showing disappointing performance for a couple of times.”

The Korean national team will host China at the Seoul World Cup Stadium on Sept. 1 for the first game of the final preliminary round in Asia. The second game will be against Syria, which will be held in Beirut, Lebanon, because of the ongoing civil war in Syria.

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