“Any South Korean player could be the candidate for wild-card spots,” said Coach Kim Hak-bum, who led the South Korean team to a first-ever win at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship and a ninth straight trip to the Olympics, about his plans for wildcard selection.
“Wildcard selections are likely to be made after the April 20 tournament draw. I’ll decide which position requires wildcard players after analyzing our opponents,” said Coach Kim during a press conference at Incheon International Airport. The press conference was held after the South Korean team returned home Tuesday with a championship cup in hand.
The final Olympic roster is 18, less than 23 for the qualifying tournament. Each team can select up to three wildcard players, who are older than the age limit of 23 or younger. Midfielder Kwon Chang-hoon and defender Jung Seung-hyun are being considered as wildcard candidates at this moment.
Eyes are on whether Son Heung-min, Hwang Ui-jo, and Cho Hyun-woo, who helped the South Korean team win the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games as over-age wild cards, could be chosen this time as well.
“Any South Korean player could be (a wildcard). I’ll make my decision after careful consideration since there are great players in our U-23 team,” said Coach Kim. Since the release of players for the Olympics is not mandatory for clubs around the world, the coach needs to consult with European clubs first in order to choose South Korean players in Europe as wildcards.
Aiming to do better than the bronze medal at the London Olympics, Coach Kim told his players not to suffer injuries and play in as many games as possible at their clubs. One of the secrets to winning all six games at the AFC Championship despite the rotation system is the K-league rule that requires clubs to include more than two players aged under 23 in the roster. Players could maintain their form and build up their physical strength thanks to the rule.
Yun-Cheol Jeong email@example.com