Men’s football team opens camp ahead of Klinsmann’s coaching debut

The South Korean men's national football team opened training camp Monday to prepare for a much-anticipated debut for their new head coach, Jurgen Klinsmann.

South Korea will take on Colombia at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan, around 310 kilometers southeast of Seoul, at 8 p.m. Friday for Klinsmann's first match here. South Korea will then host Uruguay at Seoul World Cup Stadium at 8 p.m. on March 28.

This March 9, 2023, file photo provided by the Korea Football Association shows Jurgen Klinsmann (C), new head coach of the men's national football team, on a training pitch at the National Football Center in Paju, some 30 km northwest of Seoul. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The German legend was appointed the Taegeuk Warriors' new bench boss at the end of February. He arrived here March 8 and has watched a couple of domestic K League matches.

With little time to scout local players though, Klinsmann inherited most of the squad that reached the round of 16 at last year's FIFA World Cup in Qatar under his predecessor, Paulo Bento.

Only three injured players from that team will be missing this month: defenders Yoon Jong-gyu and Hong Chul, and winger Hwang Hee-chan, who was initially selected but was cut Sunday due to an injury he picked up playing for Wolverhampton Wanderers. Hwang was not replaced, leaving Klinsmann with 25 men.

Most of those players reported to camp at the National Football Center (NFC) in Paju, some 30 km northwest of Seoul, Monday afternoon. A few Europe-based players will join the others either late Monday or Tuesday, due to their club commitments.

That group includes longtime national team captain, Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur, Napoli defender Kim Min-jae and RCD Mallorca midfielder Lee Kang-in.

Jurgen Klinsmann (R), head coach of the South Korean men's national football team, watches a K League 1 match between Daegu FC and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors at DGB Daegu Bank Park in Daegu, some 240 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on March 19, 2023. (Yonhap)

The national team will train at the NFC until Wednesday morning before traveling to Ulsan.

South Korea are ranked 25th in the world, eight spots below Colombia.

The two countries have met seven times, with South Korea having posted four wins, two draws and one loss. Their most recent showdown came in March 2019, when South Korea prevailed 2-1 thanks to goals by Son Heung-min and Lee Jae-sung.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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