Hwang Sun-hong, caretaker manager for the Korean men's national football team, speaks at a press conference at the Korea Football Association House in Seoul, March 11. Yonhap

When Hwang Sun-hong, head coach of the Korean men’s under-23 national football team, was watching the senior team from afar, he noticed some imbalance between their offense and defense. Now that Hwang has been called in as the senior squad’s caretaker boss for World Cup qualifying matches this month, he wants to address that issue .”Personally, I thought there was a significant lack of balance between offense and defense,” Hwang said Monday while announcing his 23-man team for the two World Cup qualifiers against Thailand. Korea will host the Thai team on March 21 in Seoul and then face them again five days later in Bangkok during the second round action in Asian qualifying .These will be Korea’s first two matches since their elimination from the semifinals at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup in Qatar last month. Despite carrying a roster stacked with Europe-based stars, Korea stumbled their way to the last four before bowing out to Jordan 2-0. The Taegeuk Warriors scored 11 goals and conceded 10 in their six matches. “It’s going to be difficult to completely fix that problem because we don’t have enough time,” Hwang added. “But basically, we have to strike the right balance. That’s where we’re going to focus on during our preparation.” Hwang, who coaches the under-23 men’s team trying to qualify for the Paris Olympics this summer, has been called in as temporary head coach for the senior team. He is stepping in for Jurgen Klinsmann, who was fired after the Asian Cup .Instead of naming a full-time replacement for Klinsmann with barely a month to go before the World Cup qualifiers, the Korea Football Association (KFA) opted to give Hwang the reins for now and take its time in finding the new bench boss. During his short time, Hwang will also be tasked with mending some fences within the team, in light of some internal fighting that came to light after the Asian Cup. Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Lee Kang-in got into a scuffle with national team captain Son Heung-min over a table tennis match on the eve of the semifinals, leading to Son’s dislocated finger. With Lee defying Son’s order to halt the table tennis match and rejoin the team dinner for some pregame bonding, the incident hinted at a much larger problem on team chemistry.

Hwang said he had spoken with some of the veterans from the Asian Cup who will be back for the World Cup qualifiers, as he tried to learn more about what went down in Qatar.” Because I wasn’t there with them at the time, it’ll be difficult for me to find out every little detail. But I did learn that people might have had some misunderstanding on a few things,” Hwang said. “Even though I won’t be with this team for very long, I will try to clear the air within the team through communication. “In addition to some familiar faces such as Lee, Son and Bayern Munich defender Kim Min-jae, Hwang gave three players their first senior international callup .One of them is Ulsan HD FC forward Joo Min-kyu, who has scored 56 goals in the K League 1 from 2021 to 2023, more than anyone else in the top Korean competition during that span. Despite winning scoring titles in 2021 and 2023, Joo had been overlooked by Klinsmann and his predecessor, Paulo Bento, for international duty .Hwang, a high-scoring striker during his playing days, said picking Joo was a no-brainer. “Football has many different elements, and I think goal scoring is a unique area,” Hwang said. “No one has scored over 50 goals over the past three years, and we don’t really need much explanation when it comes to Joo Min-kyu.”Gwangju FC midfielder Jeong Ho-yeon and Ulsan defender Lee Myung-jae are the two other international rookies.” My staff and I have been watching the K League closely and tried to select players that are currently in good form,” Hwang said. “A national team should only have the best players available. “In all, 11 players from the K League 1 were picked this time. However, Suwon FC midfielder Lee Seung-woo, who has netted two goals in two matches so far this season, isn’t one of them. Hwang said Lee, a former FC Barcelona youth player, was one of the final cuts .”We left him off the team after taking into account his chemistry with other midfielders,” Hwang said. “It’s really unfortunate, but I hope he doesn’t feel too disappointed, and he keeps on going. The doors to the national team will always be open to Lee and other 토토사이트 K League players.

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