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Cho to call up young guns in June

South Korean national team manager Cho Kwang-rae has announced that he will call up his best players, including some of the country’s rising young stars, for two friendly games in June, much to the dismay of U23 team manager Hong Myong-bo.

Cho said earlier that he would take the strongest available squad for the home friendly against Serbia on June 3 and also Ghana on June 7 in preparation for 2014 World Cup qualifications, which starts in September.

“Time is short. We’ve got only two games to play before heading to the World Cup qualifier,” Cho said during a news conference Monday. 
Korean national team head coach Cho Kwang-rae (Yonhap News)
Korean national team head coach Cho Kwang-rae (Yonhap News)

Fresh from his Europe trip, during which he checked on some Korean internationals playing in the continent, Cho revealed that he was close to working out his best 11 squad for the first qualifier in September.

“It’s time to prepare for the 2014 World Cup. I’d like to have my best 11 players on the field by June,” he said.

The 57-year-old manager hinted that he was ready to pick the 20-year-old striker Ji Dong-won, 21-year-old midfielder Kim Bo-kyung and other young guns for his World Cup squad.

But Cho’s decision is likely to bring him into conflict with U23 team manger Hong, who is preparing for the 2012 Olympics qualifier.

The U23 team is scheduled to play Jordan in June in the second round of the Asian qualifications for the London Olympics.

Hong, who took charge of the young national side in 2009, revealed earlier that he was in desperate need of talented young players in order to prepare the U23 Olympic team.

Cho, however, claimed on Monday that he believes it would be better for young footballers to play for the national team, instead of the U23 team.

“Playing for both the national team and the U23 team would be impossible. I’ll soon announce the squad for the World Cup qualifier, so some of the young players can focus on playing on only one team,” Cho said.

Although he is keen to take his strongest possible team, Cho said he would allow Vfl Wolfsburg midfielder Koo Ja-cheol to be chosen for the U23 team.

The 22-year-old Koo was one of the key players of Cho’s squad at the Asian Cup in January, scoring five goals and helping Korea finish third in the tournament.

But the former Jeju United midfielder, who joined the German Bundesliga’s Wolfsburg in January, also played in the U20 World Cup in 2009 and the 2010 Asian Games under the guidance of manager Hong.

“Hong is determined to keep Koo in his team, so I’ve spoken with the technical committee and decided to allow him to play for the U23 team,” Cho added.

Speaking of the young midfielder, Cho said he believed Koo was a talented player, but added that he needs more speed in order to stay in the high-profile league.

“He needs to overcome the pressure, and adapt quickly to fast-paced European football,” Cho said.

The manager said that he is now in talks with the technical committee, and is planning to announce his squad before the end of this month.

“I’m trying to make the decision in the best interests of everybody, for a win-win result for both the national team and the U23 team,” he said.

By Oh Kyu-wook (596story@heraldcorp.com)
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