7 new faces join Korea for World Cup qualifying matches in June

 Korea midfielder Bae Jun-ho plays FIFA U-20 game with Ecuador in Del Estero Stadium, Santiago, Argentina, June 2023. Yonhap

Korea will take seven international rookies to their upcoming pair of World Cup qualifying matches in June.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) on Monday released the 23-man squad list for South Korea’s World Cup qualifying contests against Singapore and China next month.

Korea will play their final two Group C matches next month to wrap up the second round of Asian qualification for the 2026 World Cup. On June 6, they will face Singapore at the National Stadium in Singapore. Five days later, Korea will host China at Seoul World Cup Stadium.

To be coached by caretaker manager Kim Do-hoon, Korea will feature seven players who have never previously played for the senior national team.

The group includes former stars of underage national teams in forward Oh Se-hun of FC Machida Zelvia, midfielder Bae Jun-ho of Stoke City, and defenders Hwang Jae-won of Daegu FC and Choi Jun of FC Seoul.

Oh, 25, helped Korea win the 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship. Bae, 20, played in six of Korea’s seven 토토 matches during their run to the fourth-place finish at last year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup. Hwang, 21, and Choi, 24, both played on Korea’s gold medal-winning, under-24 squad at the Asian Games last fall in China.

Goalkeeper Hwang In-jae of Pohang Steelers, and defenders Park Seung-wook of Gimcheon Sangmu and Ha Chang-rae of Nagoya Grampus have been called up for the first time after never having represented the country at any age level. Hwang is the senior member of this trio at age 30, but he will likely be limited to a reserve role behind Jo Hyeon-woo, who has 31 caps.

They will join some of the usual suspects in longtime captain Son Heung-min, midfielders Lee Kang-in and Hwang In-beom, and defender Kim Jin-su.

Conspicuous by their absence will be defender Kim Min-jae and forward Cho Gue-sung.

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