South Korea may not have the service of veteran defensive back Kwak Tae-hwi for an upcoming World Cup qualifier against Qatar, national team officials said Thursday, as the country may be forced to juggle its lineup once again.
Officials said Kwak, also the national team captain, underwent a test on Monday that revealed torn quadriceps.
The 31-year-old hasn’t taken part in recent team practices as the 23-man squad prepares to host Qatar next Tuesday in Seoul in the final round of Asian qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
|National team players take part in a practice session on Thursday. (Yonhap News)|
Kwak’s injury is the latest blow to the team that has already replaced a defensive back, a midfielder and a backup goalkeeper this week alone.
Kwak, who plays for Al-Shabab in Saudi Arabia, has been the pillar of the South Korean defense for the past two rounds of the World Cup qualification. He is the only defensive back to have played in all four games in the final qualification round so far. Kwak, who has represented South Korea in 29 matches, is also known for his nose for the goal, particularly on set pieces.
Head coach Choi Kang-hee said the players will more than make up for their inexperience with their talent.
“Since Kwak Tae-hwi may not be able to play, we need to find a new combination at central defense,” he said. “Players we have as alternatives lack experience, but they’re all capable players. We have plenty of time to practice (before facing Qatar).” (Yonhap News)
Cho Kwang-rae to get back pay
Former men’s national soccer team head coach Cho Kwang-rae may soon receive his outstanding wages, a senior official said Thursday.
Ahn Gi-heon, the executive director at the Korea Football Association, said the national football governing body discussed the issue regarding Cho’s salary at a board meeting earlier this week.
Ahn said the KFA’s board members want to see “a positive resolution” to the wage dispute. (Yonhap News)