Redraw disrupts training scheduleWith their Asian Games schedule out of whack following a redraw, the Korean men’s under-23 football team on Friday canceled their tune-up match against Iraq.
Korea, coached by Kim Hak-bum, are in Group E with Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games. The opening ceremony is on Aug. 18, but the football tournament will kick off a few days beforehand with group matches.
Korea, the defending Asian Games champions, were initially grouped with Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia and Bahrain in the original draw of 24 countries held on July 5, and the first match was set for Aug. 14. But organizers had omitted the UAE and Palestine, and they conducted a second draw on Wednesday, with the UAE dropping into Group E and Palestine joining Group A. Those are the only two groups with five nations, and Groups B, C, D and F each have four countries.
With the new groupings, Korea’s first match will now be held on Aug. 12 against a yet-to-be-determined team. Kim’s squad will now depart for Indonesia on Aug. 8, two days ahead of schedule, and they were forced to cancel the Aug. 9 tune-up against Iraq.
The Korea Football Association said the full group stage schedules will likely be released next Monday.
Meanwhile, Kim will open his training camp at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul in Gyeonggi, at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Those based in overseas leagues won’t be immediately available, and will join the team next month in Indonesia.
Tottenham Hotspur attacker Son Heung-min will play in the Premier League season opener on Aug. 11 before reporting to the Asian Games, and he will miss Korea’s first group match on Aug. 12. Gamba Osaka forward Hwang Ui-jo will be with the national team on Aug. 6.
Hwang Hee-chan of FC Red Bull Salzburg and Lee Seung-woo of Hellas Verona are also expected to report to Kim’s team early August.