U-22 coach has 30 names on shortlist for Tokyo qualifiersWith about two months to go until the Olympic men’s football qualifying tournament, Korean head coach Kim Hak-bum said Wednesday he has narrowed down the candidate pool for his final roster “to about 30 players.”
Kim’s under-22 national team returned home from a friendly tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where it had two wins and two losses against Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.
It served as a key on-field tuneup for Kim, who will lead a 23-man roster to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship in Thailand in January.
The competition will double as the Asian qualifying tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The top three nations will secure their spots in Tokyo. The men’s Olympic football tournament is open only to players under 23, except for three overage players permitted per team.
“We gained a lot from this tournament in Dubai. It was a good opportunity for me to evaluate players,” Kim told reporters at Incheon International Airport. “We went through a lot of different situations in preparation for what’s to come [at the AFC tournament next year].”
For the Dubai event, Kim called up Germany-based midfielder Paik Seung-ho, who has recently played for the senior national team.
“Paik Seung-ho is a talented player,” Kim said of the 22-year-old product of FC Barcelona’s youth system. “He could have some chemistry issues with other players who’ve been with us a while, but I don’t foresee any major problem.”
Korea’s only Olympic medal in men’s football came at the 2012 tournament in London. The team got knocked out of the quarterfinals in 2016.
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