Bento’s boys named for EAFF E-1 FinalsThe Korean national football team head coach Paulo Bento announced his 23-man roster for the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) E-1 Football Championship finals on Thursday.
Also, under the agreement with U-22 national team head coach Kim Hak-bum, Bento didn’t select any players that can compete for the U-22 squad so they can solely focus on the Olympics. During this period, the U-22 football team is scheduled to train for the Asian Football Confederation U-23 Championship, which serves as a regional qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Bento’s roster still includes a lot of the usual faces - defenders Kim Young-gwon of Gamba Osaka and Kim Min-jae of Beijing Guoan and all three goalkeepers: Kim Seung-gyu of Ulsan Hyundai FC, Jo Hyeon-woo of Daegu FC and Gu Sung-yun of Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo.
Bento also added some notable K League 1 players Kim Bo-kyung of Ulsan and Moon Seon-min of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
Ulsan and Jeonbuk are currently vying for the K League 1 title, with Ulsan the current leader.
Both Kim and Moon have been their respective teams’ star players and are both nominated for the MVP award this season. This season, Kim appeared in 34 matches with Ulsan and scored 13 goals and eight assists.
Moon played in 31 matches for Jeonbuk and scored 10 goals, adding 10 assists. Moon is currently ranked first in the K League 1 for assists.
In addition to the two players, Yun Il-lok of Jeju United will be making his return to the national team. Yun last played for the national team at the 2017 EAFF E-1 Football Championship, so this is not only the first time in two years for him to return, but also the first time he’ll play for Bento.
Lee Young-jae of Gangwon FC was added to the national team for the first time in his career.
Korea will compete at this year’s tournament as defending champion. In 2017, Korea defeated Japan in the final to win the tournament. With a win, Korea has won the most number of titles, at four.
Not only as the defending champion, but Korea will also be the host of this year’s event. The final round of the eighth edition of the EAFF E-1 Championship will be held in Busan from Dec. 10 to 18.
The players will start training in Ulsan on Dec. 5 and will be heading to Busan on Dec. 9, two days before Korea’s opening match.
The tournament will be played in a round-robin format, with teams receiving three points for a win and a point for a draw. The team with the most points after the three matches will be declared the champion.
Korea, China and Japan automatically qualify for the finals, with the two preliminary rounds deciding the final team that competes. This year, Hong Kong earned that spot.
Korea will play its first match against Hong Kong on Dec. 11, starting at 7:30 p.m. Then, the team will play against China on Dec. 15 and play its last match against Japan on the 18th. Both matches will kick off at 7:30 p.m. All matches will be played at Busan Asiad Main Stadium.
The women’s EAFF E-1 Football Championship will also be held in Busan, but all the matches will be played at Busan Gudeok Stadium.
BY KANG YOO-RIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]