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S. Korean captain calls Colombia good sparring partner for World Cup prep

2017/11/09 19:52

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By Joo Kyung-don

SUWON, South Korea, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea national football team captain Ki Sung-yueng said Thursday he thinks Colombia are a good sparring partner in preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup as the teams are set to clash in a friendly match.

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

Ki, one of 23 players called up for the friendly, said the players are ready to perform in front of home fans.

"We're going to face a good team before the World Cup and I think Colombia are good (sparring) partner for our World Cup preparations," Ki said at a press conference in Suwon. "We don't know how it will turn out, but we'll do our best to show what we've prepared."

   The Swansea City midfielder said the players have a good grasp of the Colombians through video analysis, but admitted that the visitors are strong.

"Colombian players are talented and they have good individual skills," he said. "We need to face them aggressively and work together to defend them. Their defenders are also powerful, but we have to challenge them from up front to create chances."

   Ki is among those who had a long trip from Europe, along with Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min, Koo Ja-cheol of FC Augsburg and Kwon Chang-hoon of Dijon FCO. But the 28-year-old said it's all about taking responsibility.

"I admit that having a long trip isn't easy, but as a captain, it's a responsibility for me to join the team early and work with my teammates," he said. "When I train with my teammates, it makes me feel good. It's important to come to the national team with a positive mindset."

   South Korea have not won their last six matches and they've only had one victory so far in 2017. In particular, the Taeguk Warriors lost to Russia 4-2 and then to Morocco 3-1 last month, which prompted some fans to call for head coach Shin Tae-yong's exit.

Ki said that South Korea didn't have the best team for their October friendlies since domestic K League players were not available. But with all the best players gathered for the upcoming friendly, the former Celtic and Sunderland anchorman vowed to show a better performance.

"We had an opportunity to work together and train intensively," he said. "If we play well this time, I think we'll gain confidence and bring fans back again. That's all up to the players."

  

South Korea's national football team captain Ki Sung-yueng (R) speaks at a press conference with head coach Shin Tae-yong at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, south of Seoul, on Nov. 9, 2017, one day ahead of the friendly football match between South Korea and Colombia. (Yonhap) South Korea's national football team captain Ki Sung-yueng (R) speaks at a press conference with head coach Shin Tae-yong at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, south of Seoul, on Nov. 9, 2017, one day ahead of the friendly football match between South Korea and Colombia. (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr

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