La Masia stars not ready for se­nior Korean side, says coach

New Straits Times - - Sport -

SEOUL: South Korea have lacked at­tack­ing flair and strug­gled to break teams down in 2018 World Cup qual­i­fy­ing but coach Uli Stielike says it is too soon to bring ex­cit­ing Barcelona young­sters Lee Se­ung Woo and Paik Se­ung Ho into the full na­tional side.

Se­ung Woo and Se­ung Ho, who have come through the Cata­lan club’s fa­mous La Masia academy and are re­garded as two of the most promis­ing tal­ents in Span­ish foot­ball, have im­pressed at the on­go­ing Un­der-20 World Cup in South Korea.

Both play­ers scored in each of the vic­to­ries over Guinea (3-0) and Ar­gentina (2-1) to help the Kore­ans reach the last 16, where they will face Por­tu­gal to­day.

But while the wing wiz­ardry of Se­ung Woo and Se­ung Ho’s range of de­fence-split­ting passes have lit up the U-20 World Cup, Stielike said se­nior in­ter­na­tional foot­ball was an en­tirely dif­fer­ent game.

“Those two play­ers have done really well in the group stage,” the Ger­man told re­porters yes­ter­day. “But be­fore the U-20 World Cup started I watched them play (K League side) Jeon­buk Hyundai in a friendly match.

“And it was clear that there was a big gap be­tween the Un­der 20 and se­nior level. It’s too soon to bring U-20 play­ers into the na­tional side.”

South Korea have ap­peared at ev­ery World Cup fi­nals since Mex­ico 1986 but their hopes of grab­bing one of the two au­to­matic berths from Group A of Asian qual­i­fy­ing for next year’s fi­nals in Rus­sia hang in the bal­ance.

They trail group lead­ers Iran by four points and lead Uzbek­istan by just one, and, af­ter play­ing Qatar in Doha on June 13, must face both teams in their fi­nal two matches.

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