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S. Korea to host Croatia in Sept. football friendly
SEOUL, Aug. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will host Croatia in a football friendly next month, a source told Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday.

   The source privy to matters at the Korea Football Association (KFA) said South Korea will bring home Croatia on Sept. 10, one of two FIFA-designated international match days of September.

   Another FIFA match day for the month is Sept. 6. South Korea had earlier been scheduled to host Iran on that day, but the Iran Football Federation recently canceled the match, citing scheduling issues.

   Croatia pounded South Korea 4-0 in their previous meeting in February in London. According to the source, the KFA and the Croatian Football Federation had already agreed to schedule a rematch for September following the countries' February game.

   Croatia is ranked eighth in the world, while South Korea is 43rd on the latest FIFA table.

   South Korea has qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The European qualification is still ongoing, and Croatia is ranked second among six nations, behind Belgium, in Group A in the first round.

   The nine group winners will automatically qualify out of Europe, while the eight best runners-up from the nine groups will enter two-legged playoffs that will determine four other qualifiers.

   In its February victory, Croatia scored two goals in each half, with four different players getting on board.

   South Korea featured most of its star players from European clubs but failed to mount much of a challenge against the talented Europeans.

   Mario Mandzukic, the leading scorer for the German and the European club champion Bayern Munich last season, is expected to join Croatia once again, along with Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric. Mandzukic was one of the goal scorers in that February match.

   Before Croatia, South Korea is scheduled to host Peru in a friendly next Wednesday. Against Peru, South Korean head coach Hong Myung-bo built a 20-man roster with players from leagues in South Korea and Japan only, as the European seasons are either under way or are about to begin. Last month, South Korea competed in the East Asian Cup against Australia, China and Japan, with 23 players from South Korean, Chinese and Japanese leagues.

   Hong, however, vowed to call up most of the Europe-based players in September.

   The head coach has said he wants to test young and unproven players from the domestic K League Classic in some friendly matches and later set up a competition for playing time between them and more established stars from international clubs ahead of next year's World Cup.

   jeeho@yna.co.kr
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