Some players have narrowly missed their opportunity to represent Korea at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Park Joo-ho of FC Mainz in Germany's Bundesliga and Lee Myung-joo, a midfielder for Pohang Steelers in Korea’s K-League, had been touted as heavy favorites to make it to the team.
Manager Hong Myung-bo mentioned these two names when he announced the final 23-man roster on Thursday, admitting that it was hard to strike them from the list.
Park, who plays as a left back, was in an excellent form throughout the season in Germany, but he succumbed to injuries at a crucial time. He suffered cellulitis on one of the toes of his right foot and underwent surgery on April 7. But despite working hard on rehabilitation, his recovery was too slow. He ended up finishing his season with the club prematurely and returned to Korea on April 28 to receive more intensive treatment.
Hong said axing him from the roster was "the toughest decision" so far. "I had to exclude him because he is still 10 percent short of making a complete recovery, and there is risk the injury could recur," he added.
His position has now been filled by Yun Suk-young of England's Queens Park Rangers.
Lee, who was in top form this season in Korea, also had to accept disappointment due to there being more experienced options for the role of attacking midfielder.
Instead of Lee, Park Jong-woo of Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande was called in.
"Apart from Han Kook-young, we were short of defensive midfielders, so I chose Park over Lee in the end," Hong said.