• August 11, 2023

AG desperate for Lee Kang-in, England to play ‘Asian team’ Saudi Arabia in A-match?

The Korean Football Association (KFA) and Klinsmann’s are once again facing controversy as the opponents for the upcoming September and October A matches are revealed. In particular, it seems difficult to avoid criticism due to the different level of opponents in the trial matches compared to rival Japan.

According to the KFA on Tuesday, the Jürgen Klinsmann-led national team will play in Europe after rejecting the Middle Eastern nation of Saudi Arabia as the second opponent for the September A match.

A KFA official said, “We are preparing to play Saudi Arabia as the next best option. We haven’t signed the contract yet, but it’s practically a done deal,” said a KFA official.

The KFA has agreed to travel to England to play Wales and Mexico in September as part of its preparations for two away A matches. The team is scheduled to face the Welsh national team at Cardiff Stadium in Wales on September 8 at 3:45 a.m. local time before taking on Mexico. The plan was for Mexico to play a two-game series in Europe against Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

However, according to foreign media, the schedule was disrupted on March 4 when Mexico abruptly canceled the trial after asking the KFA and the Saudi Arabian Football Federation to suspend negotiations, citing TV coverage time.

The KFA scrambled to find a second A-match opponent, but apparently concluded that it would be difficult to find a European team since Euro 2024 qualifiers will be held during the September A-match.

As a result, a Plan B of South Korea and Saudi Arabia playing in England is now all but confirmed. The date of the match will be September 12, local time, with the venue and time still to be agreed. Klinsmann is also said to have expressed the opinion that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to play a Middle Eastern team in preparation for the Asian Cup next January.

South Korea has been drawn in Group E alongside Jordan, Bahrain and Malaysia for the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup in Doha, Qatar, in January 2024. The national team will also begin the second round of Asian qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in November. South Korea has been drawn in Group C alongside China, Thailand, and the winner of the Singapore-Guam first round in the second qualifier.

Given their immediate schedule, it’s easy to pick Saudi Arabia, but there’s a good argument to be made for flying to Europe to face an Asian team.

The reason for the team to travel to Europe is to reduce the jet lag of the European players, who are the core of the team’s strength, so that they can play at their best, while also making it easier to schedule matches against European teams that are relatively difficult to find when playing in Korea or Asia.

In this way, the strengths and weaknesses of the national team can be weighed and ways to improve them in the future can be explored. However, Japan wasted a valuable opportunity to travel to Europe by playing Saudi Arabia. This is in stark contrast to neighboring Japan, who have already booked two European games in September against Germany and Turkuye.

The Euro 2024 qualifiers will feature a total of 53 nations, excluding hosts Germany, divided into 10 groups. As a result, seven of the five-team groups will be empty on each matchday. South Korea and Japan took advantage of this gap, and as a result, South Korea were drawn against Wales and Japan against Turkiye. Japan went further, however, and set up a solid September A fixture list with a return match 10 months after the World Cup in Qatar against Klinsmann’s home country Germany, who are not participating in the qualifiers themselves as Euro2024 hosts.

South Korea, on the other hand, was scheduled to play Mexico in an exhibition match but was forced to play Saudi Arabia due to a change of heart.

In addition, the decision to play Vietnam in the second of two October A matches at home has raised concerns from both inside and outside the soccer world. According to the KFA, Klinsmann’s desire to play a tight defense in the October A-Match increases the likelihood of Vietnam facing a hypothetical Group C opponent in Thailand in the second round of World Cup qualifying.

Japan, on the other hand, has no such plan and has already announced the venues for their home trials against Canada and Tunisia, both of whom appeared at last year’s World Cup in Qatar. Based on the trials in March and June, South Korea could have had an A-match with Japan, with Japan playing Canada and South Korea playing Tunisia on the same day, but Klinsmann suddenly came up with the idea of playing Vietnam at home, citing “defeating dense defenses” as the reason. 스포츠토토

Domestic soccer fans are already up in arms online. “Jordan will also play Norway (with Elling Holland) in September,” “Should we pay a lot of money to watch Vietnam,” “Klinsmann finally gets his first win (against Vietnam),” and so on. “Korean soccer, which has lost 0-3 to Japan in national team matches since last year, has also lost heavily by three goals in A-match bookings,” said some.

Some in the soccer world are wondering why Lee Kang-in, who is essential to the Asian Games squad, would be called up to the Klinsmann Cup to play against Saudi Arabia in England during the A-Match in September.

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