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Klinsmann inherits World Cup roster for S. Korea coaching debut

March 13, 2023 - 09:55 By Yonhap
Jurgen Klinsmann, new head coach of the South Korean men's national football team, watches a K League 1 match between FC Seoul and Ulsan Hyundai FC at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul on Sunay. (Yonhap)

South Korea on Monday announced their 26-man national football roster for Jurgen Klinsmann's upcoming coaching debut for the Taegeuk Warriors, featuring many players who competed at last year's FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The Korea Football Association posted the squad list on its website, rather than have Klinsmann unveil the roster at a press conference, as is the tradition for national team announcements.

Klinsmann, a German football legend, only arrived in South Korea last Wednesday. The KFA said Klinsmann elected to keep the World Cup squad mostly intact because he hasn't had much time to scout South Korean players in person.

Klinsmann had his first personal look at K League action Sunday, when he attended a match between FC Seoul and Ulsan Hyundai FC at Seoul World Cup Stadium.

Only two players from Qatar, defenders Yoon Jong-gyu and Hong Chul, were left off this time because of injuries. Suwon Samsung Bluewings defender Lee Ki-je and Celtic forward Oh Hyeon-gyu were newly added.

Oh was picked as an emergency injury replacement for the World Cup but was not formally on the roster.

Lee, who led the K League 1 with 14 assists last season, has earned two caps, both of them coming in June 2021 in World Cup qualifiers. Oh earned his first cap just before the final World Cup roster was announced in November last year.

South Korea will host Colombia on March 24 in Ulsan, some 310 kilometers southeast of Seoul, in Klinsmann's debut. South Korea will then face Uruguay on March 28 in Seoul, a rematch of a group stage match in Qatar.

South Korea come in ranked 25th in the world, eight spots below Colombia and nine behind Uruguay.

South Korea have posted four wins, two draws and one loss against Colombia, and one win, two draws and six losses against Uruguay.

Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-min had served as captain under previous head coach Paulo Bento and should retain that role under Klinsmann, a former Spur himself.

The training camp for the friendlies will open next Monday at the National Football Center in Paju, just north of Seoul. (Yonhap)