One spot remains on national football team

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One spot remains on national football team

The national football team’s coaching staff will announce its final 23-man roster for the 2011 Asian Cup today. With the training camp in Seogwipo, Jeju Island wrapping up yesterday, manager Cho Kwang-rae is mulling over the final spot on his 23-man roster.

The national team departs for its overseas training camp in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. on Dec. 26. The Asian Cup in Qatar begins on Jan. 7.

“We’re close to rounding out our final roster,” said Cho yesterday. “I’m currently mulling over whether to take a forward or a defender for the final spot on the roster.”

Cho Kwang-rae is reportedly considering forward Kim Shin-wook of the Ulsan Hyundai Horangi and defender Choi Hyo-jin of the Korea Armed Forces Athletic Corps’ team Sangmu.

Listed at 196-centimeters (6 feet 4 inches), Kim can be a big scoring threat in set-piece situations. In past Asian Cups, Korea mostly faced defensive-minded teams that looked for scoring opportunities on the counterattack. Despite outplaying their opponents, Korea had trouble scoring goals against such teams, a big reason why it has failed to win the Asian Cup for the last 51 years.

Cho’s Asian Cup squad features talented forwards and midfielders such as Park Ji-sung, Park Chu-young, Lee Chung-yong, Kim Bo-kyung, Yoo Byung-soo, Ji Dong-won and Son Heung-min, but Kim Shin-wook’s height would add a new dimension to Korea’s attack.

Kim scored seven goals and added three assists to help Ulsan to a record of 15 wins, five draws and eight losses this year in the K-League.

Cho Young-cheol outplayed Choi Hyo-jin for the right-fullback spot. Cho all but secured himself the backup role at the Jeju training camp behind Cha Du-ri. However, the coaching staff is concerned about limiting their options at the right-fullback position. In the case that the physical Cha gets injured or runs into foul trouble, the defense could use another viable option.

“We run the risk of facing a dangerous situation if we limit our options to Cha Du-ri and Cho Young-cheol,” said manager Cho.

The other 22 spots on the squad were all but secured as of yesterday. Park Ji-sung and Park Chu-young will be the heart of the Korean attack, supported by Ji Dong-won and Son Heung-min. The center midfield will be manned by Ki Sung-yeung, Koo Ja-cheol, and Yoo Bitgaram.

All three center midfielders are young and relatively inexperienced on the international stage. Defensive midfielder Kim Jung-woo, who played on the 2010 South Africa World Cup and 2010 Guangzhou Asian Cup squads, is out with an injury.

“If we’re in need of a defensive midfielder, we can slot in left fullback Lee Yong-rae,” said the manager.

The national team coaching staff placed a lot of focus on improving its defense. Defenders Cho Yong-hyung, Lee Jung-soo, Hwang Jae-won, Kwak Tae-hwi and Hong Jung-ho all made the team. At the left-fullback position, veteran Lee Young-pyo and Lee Yong-rae were selected, while goalkeepers Jung Sung-ryong, Kim Yong-dae and Kim Jin-hyun made the final cut.

By Kim Jong-ryok, Jason Kim []
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