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(LEAD) S. Korea football coach ready to challenge physical Serbians in friendly

2017/11/13 18:29

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(ATTN: ADDS more info in last 2 paras)

ULSAN, Nov. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea national football head coach Shin Tae-yong said Monday his side is ready to challenge physical Serbia in the upcoming friendly match.

South Korea, No. 62 in the latest FIFA rankings, will face 38th-ranked Serbia at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan, 410 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Tuesday. It is South Korea's last match at home this year.

Both South Korea and Serbia have secured their spots at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and are coming off friendly victories last week. South Korea beat Colombia 2-1 at home, while Serbia blanked China 2-0 on the road.

"Serbia are tough opponents for us," Shin said at a press conference. "They're a good team, so we have to stay sharp and prepare well to play a good game."

   South Korea ended their six-game winless streak with a victory over Colombia. Shin also collected his first win with the national team, which he took over in July.

To keep up the winning momentum, Shin said his team has worked on set pieces. Against Colombia, South Korea allowed a goal to Cristian Zapata in the second half when he headed down James Rodriguez's free kick.

Shin said the players have to especially be aware of Serbians' physical play, since they're supposed to be stronger than Colombians.

"Our players have played poorly against Eastern European teams," he said. "Some may think we are inferior to them in terms of power and physique. But I think Serbia will help us prepare for the World Cup."

   Shin said the victory against Colombia was a big turnaround for his team and has provided energy to the players.

"I'm sure the players have got their energy from the Colombia friendly to perform better," he said. "I believe they'll play with confidence."

   Shin, however, said goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu, who played against Colombia, will not be available due to an ankle injury. His void can be filled by Kim Jin-hyeon or Cho Hyeon-woo, but Shin said he has yet to decide between the two.

Kim Jin-hyeon has 13 appearances for South Korea. He last featured in South Korea's 3-1 loss against Morocco last month. Cho will make his international debut if he starts against Serbia.

South Korea national football team head coach Shin Tae-yong speaks at a press conference at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan on Nov. 13, 2017, one day ahead of the friendly match between South Korea and Serbia. (Yonhap) South Korea national football team head coach Shin Tae-yong speaks at a press conference at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan on Nov. 13, 2017, one day ahead of the friendly match between South Korea and Serbia. (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr

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