National team coach Hong Myung-bo revealed his roster of 25 players on Tuesday who will play in friendly matches against Haiti in Incheon on Sept. 6 and Croatia on Sept. 10 in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province.
Unlike last week's tune-up against Peru and the recent East Asian Cup, where he used only players from the domestic and Japanese leagues, this time he has summoned seven footballers from the European leagues.
"The real competition for a spot in the starting roster for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil begins now," he said.
Hong recently went to Germany to check on Leverkusen striker Son Heung-min, Wolfsburg midfielder Koo Ja-cheol and Mainz defender Park Ju-ho, all of whom were called up for the two upcoming fixtures. English Premier Leaguers Kim Bo-kyung, who plays for Cardiff, and Ji Dong-won of Sunderland were also included, as were Lee Chung-yong of Bolton and Queens Park Rangers' Yun Suk-young, who ply their trade in the second-tier English Championship.
Park Chu-young of Arsenal and Ki Sung-yueng of Swansea City, both of whose futures with their respective clubs are uncertain, were excluded from the squad. The transfer window in the European football leagues closes on Sept. 2 -- as Aug. 31 this year falls on a Saturday, thus extending the deadline to the following Monday.
Among the 25 players named by Hong, 12 play in Korea's professional league, four each play in England and Japan, three are being called home from Germany, and one each from China and Saudi Arabia. Kwak Tae-hwi of Al Shabab, a former national team captain, will earn his first cap under Hong.
Since Hong took the job this summer the team has scored just one goal in four games, and he said he hopes to see more killer touches and fewer squandered shots in the next two games.
"I believe goals can come at anytime, based on skills of each of the players, as they have shown me they're not bad at creating chances. We've got about 10 days to train together, and I'll focus on how to exploit the players’ individual skills through better teamwork," he said.