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Shin Tae-yong says his aim at FIFA is the quarterfinals

Korea’s men’s under-20 football coach, Shin Tae-yong, on Monday said the primary goal of his side at the upcoming FIFA competition at home is to reach the quarterfinals.

Korea will host the FIFA U-20 World Cup from May 20 to June 11 in six cities. Shin’s side will face Argentina, England and Guinea in Group A at the 24-team tournament. The top two teams from six groups will advance to the round of 16, along with four third-place teams.

“Our goal is to reach at least the quarterfinals,” Shin said before the training at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul. “We need to prepare thoroughly to achieve that goal.”

With the tournament just 40 days away, Shin called up 25 players for April training for what many consider a provisional squad for the World Cup. The head coach previously said he is most likely to select 21 members from this squad unless unexpected situations, such as injuries, occur over the course of their preparations. The deadline for final entry is May 8.

“We will probably announce our final roster between April 28 and May 2,” he said. “The reason why I picked more than 21 players is I want to keep the competition ongoing within this team.”

Shin said his starting members will be the players who can display their best performance in their respective positions. But for reserve members, the 46-year-old said versatility is the key.

“We’re limited to select only 21 players, and that’s why we need some players who can handle multiple positions,” he said.

Monday’s training started with 23 players. FC Barcelona prospect Lee Seung-woo and FC Seoul midfielder Lim Min-hyeok were absent due to their club duties.

“Most of them haven’t played with their respective clubs recently, so it’s important to boost their strength and stamina,” Shin said. “We will also have some practice matches once or twice a week to help the players find their rhythm.”

Korea won the four-nation U-20 football tournament at home last month over Honduras, Zambia and Ecuador. All three nations are also participants in the U-20 World Cup.

Shin, who coached Korea at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, said the players have gained confidence through the FIFA U-20 World Cup test event, but they will work on fixing problems that emerged during the tournament.

“We showed some speedy attacks in that tournament, but our defense has to be organized,” he said. “The FIFA U-20 World Cup is staged on our soil and we really need home fans’ support to play good matches.”



Cardinals’ Oh delivers homer for second straight outing

St. Louis Cardinals closer Oh Seung-hwan has served up a home run for his second straight outing, as his shaky start to the 2017 season continues.

Oh gave up a solo shot against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Sunday (local time) in the Cardinals’ 8-0 loss.

This was Oh’s first appearance since the season opener the previous Sunday. He hadn’t been in a save situation with the Cardinals losing three in a row and then beating the Reds 10-4 on Saturday.

Oh took the mound in the top of the ninth with the Cards down 7-0. The South Korean right-hander got Jose Peraza to pop out to shortstop to open the inning, but then Joey Votto drove a 1-0 slider over the right field wall to pad the Reds’ lead.

Oh was touched for a three-run shot against the Chicago Cubs in his season debut. The second-year big leaguer allowed just five home runs all of last season and never did so in back-to-back games.

The first home run off Oh last year came on May 25, and he didn’t give up his second long ball until July 22. After Votto’s home run, Oh allowed a walk and a single, before retiring the next two batters on pop flies.

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