South Korean coach Huh Jung-Moo cut three players from his 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ squad on Tuesday, but former Middlesbrough striker Lee Dong-Gook survived the axe.
Huh slimmed down his South Africa-bound contingent to 23 players with forward Lee Keun-Ho of J-League side Jubilo Iwata, and midfielders Shin Hyung-Nin of Pohang Steelers and Koo Ja-Cheol of Jeju United, missing out. "We have three games and about three weeks. In my own way, I've thought about which members could play in the three games and contribute to the team," Huh was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency.
There were doubts over the experienced Lee Dong-Gook, now playing for Asian champions Pohang Steelers, who has been nursing a thigh injury, but Huh said he will be ready for their second game against Argentina. "The team's medical and physical training staff agreed that (Lee) would be able to play from the second game. He won't have any trouble playing in the second and third match," said the coach.
Lee, the top goalscorer in the Korean domestic league last year, played at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France but was dropped for 2002 when Guus Hiddink steered them to the semi-finals. He was all set to play in Germany 2006 but a knee injury prevented him from making the trip.
Korea Republic are led by Manchester United star Park Ji-Sung, with Lee Chung-Yong of Bolton Wanderers, Park Chu-Young of AS Monaco and Celtic's Ki Sung-Yueng the other high-profile names. They are making their seventh consecutive FIFA World Cup appearance and have a decent chance of getting into the knockout rounds, although another appearance in the last four may be beyond them.
They get their tournament under way with a must-win match against Greece in Port Elizabeth on 12 June before playing group favourites Argentina in Johannesburg five days later. The Taeguk Warriors wrap up the group phase with a clash against dangerous Nigeria in Durban on 22 June. They play their last warm-up match against Spain on Thursday in Innsbruck.
Korea Republic squad for South Africa 2010:
Kim Young-Kwang (Ulsan), Lee Woon-Jae (Suwon), Jung Sung-Ryong (Seongnam); Kim Dong-Jin (Ulsan), Kim Hyung-Il (Pohang), Oh Beom-Seok (Ulsan), Lee Young-Pyo (Al Hilal, Saudi Arabia), Lee Jung-Soo (Kashima, Japan), Cha Doo-Ri (Freiburg, Germany) Cho Yong-Hyung (Jeju), Kang Min-Soo (Suwon); Ki Sung-Yong (Celtic, Scotland), Kim Bo-Kyung (Oita, Japan), Kim Nam-Il (Tomsk, Russia), Kim Jae-Sung (Pohang), Kim Jung-Woo (Gwangju), Lee Chung-Yong (Bolton, England), Park Ji-Sung (Manchester United, England); Park Chu-Young (Monaco, France), Ahn Jung-Hwan (Dalian, China), Lee Seung-Ryul (Seoul), Yeom Ki-Hun (Suwon), Lee Dong-Gook (Jeonbuk).
*Please note that squad lists only become official after they have been submitted to and announced by FIFA.