South Korea head coach Uli Stielike today has named his squad for the two 2018 World Cup Qualifiers against China and Syria. South Korea will travel to China on March 23 and host Syria five days later in Group A play.
A pair of domestic strikers, Kim Shin-wook of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Lee Jeong-hyeop of Busan IPark were among three forwards named to the squad. Jeonbuk are playing in the top-flight K League Classic, while Busan are competing in the second-tier K League Challenge.
Kim has been one of the top-scoring forwards in the league in recent seasons. He has three goals in 36 international appearances, while Lee emerged as a surprising offensive star in the early days of Stielike’s regime, with five goals in 16 matches. Joining Kim and Lee up front is 21-year-old striker Hwang Hee-chan, who plays for FC Red Bull Salzburg.
South Korea are currently in second place with 10 points after five matches, one behind Iran. Only the top two nations from the group will earn automatic berths at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, while the third place team will have to go through playoffs.
Compared to the 24-man squad that beat Uzbekistan 2-1 last November, Stielike brought in seven new players. Among the usual suspects not selected this time are Crystal Palace midfielder Lee Chung-yong and Borussia Dortmund defensive back Park Joo-ho. Both players have seen little action with their respective clubs.
Tottenham Hotspurs’ Son Heung-min, who scored a hat-trick in an FA Cup victory over Millwall on Sunday, was named to the team, but he will not be eligible to play in China because of accumulated yellow cards.
South Korea full squad:
Goalkeepers: Kwoun Sun-tae (Kashima Antlers), Kim Seung-gyu (Vissel Kobe), Kim Dong-jun (Seongnam FC)
Defenders: Kim Kee-hee (Shanghai Shenhua), Jang Hyun-soo (Guangzhou R&F), Hong Jeong-ho (Jiangsu Suning), Kwak Tae-hwi (FC Seoul), Kim Min-hyeok (Sagan Tosu), Lee Yong (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Choi Chul-soon (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Kim Jin-su (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Kim Min-woo (Suwon Samsung)
Midfielders: Jung Woo-young (Chongqing Lifan), Koh Myong-jin (Al-Rayyan SC), Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur), Ki Sung-yueng (Swansea City), Nam Tae-hee (Lekhwiya SC), Koo Ja-cheol (FC Augsburg), Ji Dong-won (FC Augsburg), Heo Yong-joon (Jeonnam Dragons)
Forwards: Kim Shin-wook (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Lee Jeong-hyeop (Busan IPark), Hwang Hee-chan (Red Bull Salzburg)