U-23 players a factor in roster picks

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U-23 players a factor in roster picks

National football team manager Cho Kwang-rae will finalize his selection of young players ahead of two international friendly matches against Colombia and Montenegro late next month in order to accommodate the U-23 Olympic squad.

Cho had been evaluating many young and promising players in preparation for the 2014 Brazil World Cup regional qualifiers, which start in September. Cho announced yesterday that he will make his final decision on which young players to keep on the senior squad in order to give the U-23 Olympic squad enough time to prepare for its 2012 London Summer Games qualifiers, which start in June.

“It might seem like the KFA’s technical committee and the senior team’s coaching staff are selecting players with no regard for the Olympic team but that’s not the case,” Cho said. “I will make my player selections as soon as possible so that those who are not chosen for the senior team can compete for spots on the Olympic squad.”

Given the upcoming qualifying matches, the KFA’s technical committee met yesterday and announced it will give the senior team first priority when it comes to player selections in case there are overlapping schedules between the two squads.

“Player-management matters on the national teams should be discussed with the respective managers,” U-23 squad manager Hong Myung-bo said on Wednesday. “I didn’t even get an invitation to attend the KFA technical committee’s meeting. We’ve been preparing for the Summer Olympics for two years and the KFA’s latest decision makes it difficult to manage a team.”

Players such as Ki Sung-yueng, Koo Ja-cheol, Kim Bo-kyung, Ji Dong-won, Yoon Suk-young, Yoon Bitgaram, Hong Jeong-ho and Hong Cheol are all under 23 and can compete on Hong’s Olympic squad. Son Heung-min and Nam Tae-hee are young enough to compete on both the Olympic squad and the U-20 World Cup in late July.

“I will need to evaluate some K-League players next month and then consider who can contribute on our team. The entire process naturally takes time,” said Cho.

Cho said he will consider left fullback Kim Dong-jin of FC Seoul as a possible replacement for the retired Lee Young-pyo and Sangmu’s Kim Jung-woo, who missed the 2010 Asian Cup due to fatigue. Cho will call on all his regulars for the friendly matches against Colombia on March 25 and Montenegro on March 29. Both will be played in Korea.

By Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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