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S. Korea to again rely on domestic league players in football friendly vs. Peru

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Aug. 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will once again rely heavily on domestic league players in an upcoming football friendly against Peru.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) on Tuesday unveiled a 20-man roster for the match against Peru, with 13 players based in the K League Classic. The game will be held at 8 p.m. on Aug. 14 at Suwon World Cup Stadium, about 45 kilometers south of Seoul.

Last month, South Korea competed in the East Asian Cup with players from leagues in South Korea, China and Japan. With the matches not protected by FIFA, Europe-based clubs weren't obliged to release their South Korean players for the regional tournament. The situation handcuffed South Korean head coach Hong Myung-bo, who selected young and largely untested players to give them a chance to prove their worth.

With European seasons already underway or about to kick off, Hong called up 13 from the domestic league and seven from Japan's J. League against Peru.

He named a pair of new attacking midfielders, hoping to add some spark to the offense after South Korea ended the East Asian Cup with just one goal in three games against Australia, China and Japan.

Lim Sang-hyub of the Busan IPark scored a hat-trick in a K League Classic game last Saturday and has joined the national team for the first time. Cho Chan-ho also scored three times for the Pohang Steelers on July 31. He has one international match under his belt.

"I chose players who are in good form in the domestic league," Hong said at a press conference on Tuesday. "I felt these new faces would help us address the problem we had on offense at the East Asian Cup."

   Hong has retained all but one defender from the East Asian Cup, and his midfield corps, aside from the addition of Lim and Cho, also remains virtually unchanged from the tournament.

"On defense, I think it was important to have some continuity and cohesion with the same group of players," Hong explained. "And our defenders and midfielders didn't have any problems at the East Asian Cup."

   Kim Young-gwon of Guangzhou Evergrande in China is the one defensive back missing after competing at the East Asian Cup. Hong said he left out Kim this time because his club plays only two days before the Peru friendly.

One other notable absence is the striker Kim Shin-wook. The 196-centimeter forward for the Ulsan Hyundai Tigers was a mainstay during the final World Cup qualification round but had a limited role as a second-half substitute during the East Asian Cup.

In the aftermath of the tournament, Hong had said Kim's presence disrupted the team's offensive flow because midfielders would stop making passes and start sending lengthy crosses for the lanky player. Hong reiterated that point on Tuesday.

"Kim has basically proven his skills," he said. "But once he enters the game, our offense becomes too simple and predictable. I think we need to develop something new on offense."

   Since becoming the head coach in June, Hong has emphasized the importance of a healthy competition between young players and more established stars until the World Cup. The coach said the competition will continue until the World Cup squad is finalized next May.

"Our players had better not relax until next year," he said. "I know some players who played at the East Asian Cup aren't on the team this time, but there's always room for them on the national team as long as they play well. They shouldn't be discouraged (by their exclusion), and I hope they keep playing hard in their leagues."

   Peru is ranked 19th in the world, 24 spots above South Korea on the FIFA table. Peru is currently in seventh place among nine nations in the final World Cup qualifying round in South America, where only the top four countries will qualify automatically.

The fifth-ranked South American country will meet the winner of an Asian playoff between Uzbekistan and Jordan in an intercontinental playoff.

jeeho@yna.co.kr

(END)

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