South Korea’s football is once again entering limitless competition for the Olympics games. The team coached by Kim Hak-bum won the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship and made to the Olympic finals for nine consecutive times for the first time in Korea’s football history.
U-23 players will return to Korea on Tuesday with a trophy and go back to their own team. But they have to put aside the joy of victory and participate in a survival game to be included in the final entry of the Tokyo Olympics.
The final entry has room for 18 players, which is five less than this competition. If Kim uses all three of his wild cards (players above 24), 15 players can be selected for the entry. There is the possibility of Lee Kang-in (19) from Europe and Baek Seung-ho (23) who were not able to play in this match joining the team, which makes the room even narrower for candidates. “I don’t think it would be appropriate to reveal my wild cards,” said Kim. “Please wait a little longer because decisions will be made based on player analysis and drawing of the team.”
Kim’s team will be summoned again in March to form a national team for the Olympics. His team will have a domestic warm-up match based on the schedule of Paulo Bento’s A team that will take a preliminary match for the 2022 Qatar World Cup in March and June. The drawing for the Olympics team will be held in Tokyo, Japan on April 20. Currently 12 countries out of 16 are confirmed to enter the finals after the final preliminary rounds in Asia, and four teams — two teams from each region — will enter the finals in the South American preliminaries in February and the North, Central American and Caribbean preliminaries in March. The best score that the Korean football team had in the Olympics was the bronze medal in the 2012 London match.