Squad for friendly announced

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Squad for friendly announced


Korean national football team head coach Cho Kwang-rae yesterday announced he has included 15 overseas Korean players on his 24-man squad for the upcoming friendly against Japan, adding that the recent match-fixing scandal in the K-League influenced his squad selection.

After finishing two friendlies - against Ghana and Serbia - last month, Cho said he would form a squad with K-Leaguers to face Japan at the Sapporo Dome on Aug. 10.

However, during a press conference at Korea Football Association headquarters yesterday, Cho said he decided to add overseas players because the match-rigging scandal in Korea’s top football division made it difficult to build a national-team squad. The 57-year-old coach also added that the intense sports rivalry between Japan and Korea was another factor.

“Because of the messy situation [in the K-League], I want to bring all overseas players to help revive Korean football,” Ilgan Sports quoted Cho as saying. “And I had to think about the fans for this game.”

Cho is looking to finalize his starting 11 with this match because it will be the team’s final friendly before the third round of regional qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup begins in September.

“Since I got this job, I have been emphasizing speed,” Cho said. “I picked players who can manage fast transitions from offense to defense with accurate passes.”

There are no new faces on the 24-man roster, but several footballers have returned to the national team after recently showing good performances.

Kim Shin-wook, a forward for Ulsan Hyundai FC, is back on the national team roster - his first time being included since a friendly against Honduras in March. The 23-year-old recently led his club in a K-League Cup victory two weeks ago and is currently the overall leading scorer in the league with 17 goals in 27 matches (including cup matches).

“Kim is in his best form this season,” Cho said. “His movement improved and he’s become more attack-minded than before.”

But Kim will have to compete with team captain Park Chu-young, J-Leaguer Lee Keun-ho and Son Heung-min, a 19-year-old attacker who plays for German club Hamburg SV. Son has collected 18 goals in nine preseason games this summer.

“Son showed very good performances recently and grew up mentally as well,” Cho said. “I have high expectations of him.”

Another young prodigy, Ji Dong-won, who recently signed a three-year deal with English Premier League club Sunderland AFC, was included on the roster despite concerns he might not be released from his club.

The English club is scheduled to have its season opener against Liverpool FC on Aug. 13, only three days after the friendly against Japan. Cho said if Sunderland decides to use Ji as a starter for the opening match, he will not call the 20-year-old striker.

“I thought a lot about Ji’s selection,” Cho said. “It is right to not call the player for the national team if he is going to start against Liverpool.”

On defense, Cho said he will use Kim Young-kwon as the central defender. Kim, 21, was tested as a left back in the squad’s last two friendlies and showed some skill with a goal against Serbia. Kim will fill the void of his Olympic team partner Hong Jeong-ho, who is currently under investigation for alleged match-fixing ties.

With Kim’s move to center back, Cho will be able to choose one of two Parks - Park Joo-ho and Park Won-jae - for the left back slot. On the right side, Cho decided to call on Cho Young-cheol instead of Pohang Steelers midfielder Kim Jae-sung, who was tested at this position in last two friendlies.

On the other side of the East Sea, Japan’s head coach, Alberto Zaccheroni, has called 18 overseas Japanese players for the friendly, including Shinji Kagawa of Borussia Dortmund and Keisuke Honda of CSKA Moscow.

By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [일간스포츠]
조광래 감독, 한일전 해외파 총동원

조광래 대표팀 감독이 다음달 10일 일본 삿포로에서 열리는 한·일전에 해외파 총동원령을 내릴 태세다.

조 감독은 "최대한 많은 해외파를 부를 생각이다. 안정된 경기력을 위해서"라고 밝혔다. 당초 조 감독은 한·일전에 국내파와 해외파의 적절한 안배를 고려했다. 국내파의 사기증진과 해외파의 팀적응을 위해서였다.

하지만 승부조작 파문이 상황을 바꿔놓았다. 조 감독은 "누가 승부조작에 연루되지 않았는지 파악하기 어렵다. 이래서는 좋은 경기를 하기 어렵다"고 덧붙였다.

대표적인 사례가 홍정호(22·제주)다. 홍정호는 지난달 승부조작 사태로 인해 검찰에 참고인 조사를 받았다. 홍정호는 '승부조작 유혹을 받았지만 거절했다. 받은 돈은 곧바로 돌려줬다'고 혐의를 부인했다.

하지만 검찰은 돈을 돌려줬더라도 범죄사실이 성립할 수 있다는 입장을 밝혔다. 검찰의 수사는 아직 끝나지 않은 상태다. 조 감독은 "일본의 혼다 게이스케를 막기 위해 수비형 미드필더로 활용하고 싶었는데, 그럴 수 없게 됐다"고 아쉬워 했다. 홍정호는 검찰의 수사가 끝날 때까지 소속팀의 K-리그 경기에 출전하지 못 하고 있다.

조 감독은 적극적으로 유럽파를 호출할 계획이다. 이적할 팀이 확정되지 않은 박주영(모나코)까지 가능하다면 부를 생각이다. 한·일전이 국제축구연맹(FIFA)가 규정한 A매치데이에 열리기 때문 차출에 지장은 없다.

조 감독은 프리시즌 매치에서 좋은 활약을 하고 있는 손흥민(함부르크)에게 큰 관심을 보였다. 그는 "아시안컵 때 만해도 놀이공원에 온 아이 같이 들떠 있었다. 올해는 프로의식이 많이 생긴 것 같다. 여름에 훈련을 많이 해서인지, 자신감도 많이 붙었다. 이 정도라면 한·일전 선발을 고려할 수 있을 것"이라고 밝혔다.

다만 한·일전 시기가 유럽시즌 개막과 맞물리는 게 변수다. 한·일전을 치른 뒤 이틀 뒤 경기를 치러야 하는 선수들이 많다. 박주영이 이적을 확정짓게 된다면 팀적응을 배려해야 할 수도 있다.

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