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Colombia football coach regards friendly vs. S. Korea as learning opportunity

2017/11/09 17:51

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By Joo Kyung-don

SUWON, South Korea, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) -- Colombia football coach Jose Pekerman said Thursday that the upcoming friendly match against South Korea will give his side experience and knowledge on Asian football ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

South Korea and Colombia will go head-to-head 8 p.m. Friday at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, 46 kilometers south of Seoul. It will be their first meeting since 2005. Both South Korea and Colombia have already qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Pekerman, who has been coaching Colombia since 2012, said that he wants to face the national teams from other continents to prepare for the top FIFA tournament. After facing South Korea, Pekerman's side will fly to Chongqing to take on China next Tuesday.

"We are here to know and experience Asian football," Pekerman said at a press conference in Suwon. "Playing against various countries will give us big experience, which is important for our preparations for the World Cup."

  

Colombia national football team head coach Jose Pekerman speaks during a press conference at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on Nov. 9, 2017, one day ahead of the friendly match between South Korea and Colombia. (Yonhap) Colombia national football team head coach Jose Pekerman speaks during a press conference at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on Nov. 9, 2017, one day ahead of the friendly match between South Korea and Colombia. (Yonhap)

Pekerman, who won the FIFA U-20 World Cup three times with Argentina, said he thinks the players are ready to play and will enjoy the match, despite their long trip. He also promised that Colombia will play with their full strength and best tactics possible.

"We didn't have enough time to train, but I think we've adapted to the conditions here," he said. "We'll play like as it is a World Cup match."

   The 68-year-old tactician said he didn't spend much time analyzing South Korea because their opponents are already well-known.

"South Korea have played lots of matches, so there weren't big difficulties to get information on them," he said.

Pekerman, who also coached Argentina at the 2006 World Cup, said he is fully aware of South Korean footballers in Europe, including Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min.

"I know about Son Heung-min, Koo Ja-cheol (of FC Augsburg) and Hwang Hee-chan (of Red Bull Salzburg)," he said. "We also have national players in the Chinese league, so we also have information on South Koreans in China."

   Pekerman said he didn't pick star players like AS Monaco striker Radamel Falcao and Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina because they were injured, but he expects them to be available sometime later this month.

"We've been notified by their clubs about their injury status," he said. "I think both players will be fit after one or two weeks."

   Pekerman also had words to say to Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes, who recently said that Colombian ace James Rodriguez's trip to Asia for the friendlies is "verging on insanity" and "incomprehensible." Pekerman emphasized that the attacking midfielder, who is with the German champions on loan from Real Madrid, is also a player that Colombia need.

"I know that any club coach doesn't want his players having a long trip," he said. "But Colombia need James in preparations for the World Cup and that's why we brought him."

   kdon@yna.co.kr

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