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S. Korea football coach says last 2 friendlies gave confidence boost

2017/11/14 23:22

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ULSAN, Nov. 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea football coach Shin Tae-yong said Tuesday the team's last two friendly matches have boosted the its confidence ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Four days after beating Colombia 2-1, South Korea collected a 1-1 draw against Serbia. The latest contest was South Korea's last home match this year. The men's national team is scheduled to participate in the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) E-1 Football Championship in Japan next month.

Both Serbia and Colombia have qualified for the 2018 World Cup and have higher FIFA rankings than South Korea. Colombia sit No. 13 and Serbia are ranked 38th, while South Korea are just 62nd.

"I think the players were able to earn confidence through the friendly matches," Shin said. "Next month at the E-1 Football Championship, we'll try to show that South Korean football is still alive."

  

South Korea national football team head coach Shin Tae-yong claps his hands during the friendly match against Serbia at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan on Nov. 14, 2017. (Yonhap) South Korea national football team head coach Shin Tae-yong claps his hands during the friendly match against Serbia at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan on Nov. 14, 2017. (Yonhap)

South Korea fell 4-2 to Russia and suffered a 3-1 defeat to Morocco last month, which put Shin in hot water with some angry fans calling for his resignation. But with these friendly matches, Shin has begun to turn things around.

Against Serbia, South Korea surrendered a goal to Adem Ljajic in the 58th minute, but Koo Ja-cheol converted a penalty kick four minutes later to level the score.

Shin said he was satisfied with what his players did against the physical Serbians.

"I admit that the Serbians were better than our team physically, but our players overcame the difficulties with grit," he said. "Our practice to stifle the opponents' attack and make good defensive coverage led us to have a solid defense."

   Against Serbia, Shin used the same 4-4-2 formation, although he changed five members from the starting 11 that he used against Colombia. One of them was goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo, who had his first international match. The 26-year-old allowed one goal, but made impressive saves, none bigger than the one on Ljajic's powerful free kick in the first half.

Shin said starting the Daegu FC goalkeeper was a "risky" move.

"Jo showed good moves in the past, but I couldn't use him in our last two World Cup qualifiers because those were very important matches," he said. "If not today, I thought I wouldn't have an opportunity to test him. Jo did much better than I expected."

   Shin, who took the helm in July after Uli Stielike's exit, said that the team's defense will become better and better.

"Giving up just one goal to a superior team is pretty good," he said. "We'll keep training without making big changes to our defensive line."

   kdon@yna.co.kr

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