May 31, 2022 10:34
Korea's national footballers have started training for a series of friendlies as they gear up for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in November. Korea will be making its 10th consecutive appearance at the quadrennial event.
Korea, which is ranked 29th in the world, faces world No. 1 Brazil on Thursday, Chile (ranked 28th) on June 6, Paraguay (50th) on June 10 and Egypt (32nd) on June 14.
The national squad's first training session was held in front of some 300 excited fans at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province on Monday. The fans were chosen from applicants on a first-come, first-served basis last week, with all the spots being snapped up in seconds.
Team captain Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur told reporters, "Brazil is one of the strongest teams in the world. But I believe we can make a game of it if we do our best."
Hwang Ui-jo of FC Girondins de Bordeaux and Hwang Hee-chan of Wolverhampton Wanderers also joined the squad, but Kim Min-jae of Fenerbahçe S.K. was ruled out due to foot injuries sustained during his Turkish club matches.
Referring to his recent feat of becoming the first Asian player to win the English Premier League's Golden Boot award, presented each season to the league's top scorer, Son said, "That's a good thing, but I have a different role on the national team. What matters is what we can learn from the upcoming friendlies, regardless of the results. What's important is to take a long-term perspective and build good teamwork for the World Cup."
The match against Brazil will kick off at 8 p.m. on Thursday at the Seoul World Cup Stadium. The South American country will be fielding its best lineup, including superstar Neymar of Paris Saint-Germain and rising young star Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid.
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