Asian nations ready to ease back into international football
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Tottenham star Son Heung-min is not required to return the South Korean national team after a break enforced by COVID-19 so he can focus on the Premier League.
If South Korea and the South Korean U23 teams meet in the first of two games in Goyang north of Seoul on Friday, they will be active again after the suspension.
Japan is approaching its return in a contrasting way, using only foreign players in its squad for international friendly matches in the Netherlands against Cameroon and Ivory Coast. Due to travel restrictions and quarantine regulations, it would have taken players too long out of the J-League if they had been forced to congregate in Europe.
If the coronavirus hadn't closed the world of sport in March, Asia would now be in the final stages of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. Instead, qualifying has been postponed to 2021, and continental heavyweights are having to think outside the box to embark on a full return to the international one Prepare for competition.
With all arrivals in South Korea subject to a 14-day quarantine, it has been decided that Son, who scored six goals for Tottenham in the first four games of the Premier League season, can stay in London for this international break. Lee Kang-in from Valencia and the German star Hwang Hee-chan also received absence sheets.
Coach Paulo Bento can only use home players but is grateful for the chance to put together a squad for the first time in eleven months.
"I'll be using these exhibition games as an opportunity to review some of the things we've done in the past and help new faces get used to our system," said Bento.
The U23 squad was ready to attend the July Olympics, but the Tokyo Games were postponed for 12 months because of the pandemic.
"I think the players are really excited to be here too," said Kim Hak-bom, head coach of the South Korean U23 squad. "Our fans are thirsty for action in the national team and we will give them something to cheer about." My role as U23 coach is to develop young players and get them promoted to the senior national team. "
Japan only selected European players for friendly matches in Utrecht, Netherlands.
"We haven't been active for almost a year, so I want to reiterate the basics and unify our intentions," said Japanese manager Hajime Moriyasu.
This is the first time Japan have selected a squad made up of players from overseas. This means that in addition to Takumi Minamino from Liverpool and Maya Yoshida from Sampdoria, Moriyasu called young talents such as Takefusa Kubo from Villareal in Spain and Yukinari Sugawara from AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands.
"I'm bringing in some young and inexperienced players to improve their level," said Moriyasu. "I want us to beat Cameroon and Ivory Coast and make our way to the Tokyo Olympics."
China is holding a five-day training camp in Shanghai while Iran will face Mali and Uzbekistan. The Asian champions Qatar face Ghana in other international friendly matches.
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