Nat'l Football Team to Lose 2 Veterans After Asian Cup Exit

  • By Lee Tae-dong

    January 28, 2019 11:16

    Korea will likely lose two of its veteran football players on the national team, Koo Ja-cheol of FC Augsburg and Ki Sung-yueng of Newcastle United.

    Koo announced his retirement from the national team after Korea's exit from the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup as it lost in a quarterfinal match against Qatar on Friday.

    Koo Ja-cheol (left) and Ki Sung-yueng

    Koo said, "I originally wanted to retire after the friendly against Australia in November last year, but played on after coach [Paulo] Bento urged me to compete in the Asian Cup. I feel so sorry that we didn't win it."

    Koo captained the team at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, helping the country claim its first Olympic football medal. He scored 16 goals in 79 games for the national team, including a tournament-leading five at the 2011 Asian Cup.

    Ki, meanwhile, hinted at his retirement by writing "Thank GOD it's finally over" on his Instagram account last week after he was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament due to a hamstring injury. He initially expressed his wish to retire after last year's World Cup in Russia but was persuaded by Bento to stay on for the Asian Cup.

    He has played 110 international matches, a record for a Korean player, and scored 10 goals.

    The departure of the two will force the team to go through a rebuilding with new faces before the second round of qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar begins in September.

    Some possible candidates are Hwang In-beom of Daejeon Citizen, who played in this year's Asian Games in Indonesia, Kwon Chang-hoon of Dijon FCO, who missed last year's World Cup at the last minute due to injury, and Lee Kang-in of Valencia CF and Paik Seung-ho of Girona FC, both of whom were nurtured from Spanish youth teams. 

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