August 16, 2017 11:20
National football team coach Shin Tae-yong on Monday unveiled a roster for the last two matches in the final round of Asian qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Korea is scheduled to play against Iran on Aug. 31 and Uzbekistan on Sept. 5.
Veteran striker Lee Dong-gook of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the K-League received the most spotlight as he returns to the national team for the first time since a friendly against Costa Rica in October 2014. The roster otherwise includes usual key members including Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur, Koo Ja-cheol of Augsburg and Kim Shin-wook of Jeonbuk.
If Lee plays against Iran, he will becomes the second oldest one to play on the national team at the age of 38 years and 124 days. The record for the oldest player is held by late Kim Yong-sik, born in 1910, who was 39 years and 274 days old when he played in a friendly against Hong Kong in April 1950. Retired goalkeeper Kim Byung-ji currently sits in second place with 37 years and 298 days.
Lee will also set the record for the longest running time with the national team at 19 years and 107 days. Retired goalkeeper Lee Woon-jae is the current holder of the record with 16 years and 159 days.
Shin justified his selection of Lee, saying, "Although he is old, my view is that he still has the best skills. Lee is nearly 40, and if he plays his best, other young players will have to play their best."
Korea is in danger of elimination from the quadrennial event, for which it has qualified for the past 28 years from 1986 in Mexico to 2014 in Brazil. It is currently in second place in its regional group with 13 points from 4 wins, 1 draw and 3 losses, only a point ahead of Uzbekistan. Iran has already secured a berth to the World Cup in Russia.
"The remaining matches may not only determine the team's fate but also mine," Shin said. "We just have to give all we have to win them."
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