Korea hosts Tunisia for pre-World Cup friendly
The Korea Football Association said yesterday that Tunisia’s team arrived in Korea at Incheon International Airport for a friendly match with the Taegeuk Warriors at 8 p.m. at the Seoul World Cup Stadium in Sangam-dong, western Seoul.
The African team isn’t going to the World Cup after losing to Cameroon in its final regional match.
However, the friendly with Tunisia is thought to be apt practice for the Korean team, as Tunisia’s current coach is Georges Leekens, who once trained Algeria and Belgium - two of the three teams Korea will face in Group H next month in Rio de Janeiro. A former Belgium national team defender, he coached the team in the 1998 World Cup.
There are a number of competitive players on Tunisia’s roster, including Selim Ben Djemia, defender Yassin Mikari, and forward Issam Jemaa, who has scored 36 goals in 81 A-matches.
Korea has faced Tunisia only once on its home turf in March 2002, with a 0-0 draw.
This match is Hong’s first since announcing his final 23-man lineup for the World Cup, and it will be the team’s final home rehearsal before Brazil. Korea will have another friendly match with Ghana at 7 p.m. local time on June 9 in Miami.
Striker Park Chu-young is set to lead scoring attempts with other attacking midfielders, including Son Heung-min (Bayer Leverkusen), Lee Chung-yong (Bolton Wanderers) and Koo Ja-cheol (FC Mainz), under Hong’s 4-2-3-1 formation. The national team recently had a series of closed-door practice sessions to prevent their offensive plays from being made public. The match against Tunisia will be the team’s first time openly using their planned drills.
Ki Sung-yueng and Han Kook-young are expected to be Hong’s two defensive midfielders and three of the four defenders’ spots are predicted to be filled by Kim Young-gwon, Hong Jung-ho, and Lee Yong. It is still unclear who will play left-back, however. Kim Jin-soo is currently out on an injury, though one option could be Yoon Suk-young, of the Queens Park Rangers, who joined the team yesterday.
“We consider this match as the very first step of the World Cup,” said Koo, the team’s captain. “We will prove what we can do in this one.”
BY KWON SANG-SOO [email@example.com]