Korea Republic eye improvement with Shin’s “best team”

Shin Tae-yong admits his Korea Republic side need to show improvement in their upcoming friendlies against Colombia and Serbia ahead of next summer’s FIFA World Cup.

Since securing qualification for the World Cup in September, the South Koreans have fallen to disappointing 4-2 and 3-1 friendly losses to Russia and Morocco respectively.

Their poor end to the qualification campaign also means that they have now gone six games without a win, with the last time they tasted victory all the way back in March.

But with two strong opponents, both of which who will also be at Russia 2018, on the horizon, Shin believes it is time for his side to get back on track, especially given he has assembled what he believes is his strongest squad since he took charge in June.

“I believe this is the best team I’ve had as head coach,” he said, according to the Asian Football Confederation’s official website.

“I admit we haven’t been well of late. We have to test ourselves and we’ll try to play good football.

“We must show people that Korean football isn’t dead and I am trying to put together a team that can do that.

“We’ll face two World Cup-bound teams and we’ll test ourselves against them.”

Shin will have a host of key players at his disposal having included Tottenham forward Son Heung-min, Swansea anchorman Ki Sung-yueng and Augsburg midfielder Koo Ja-cheol in his 23-man squad.

However, there were also spots for uncapped duo Jung Seung-hyun and Lee Chang-min of Sagan Tosu and Jeju United respectively, although Shin left out veteran striker Lee Dong-gook, who just netted his 200th K-League goal at the weekend.

“Our players have to throw their bodies around and show mental fortitude,” the Korea Republic coach added.

“If we can’t compete with talent, we have to outwork our opponents.

“We’re not the best in the world, but we have to show people the hope that we can get better, one step at a time.

“Since we’ve accomplished our goal of qualifying for the World Cup, we must play with confidence.”

Goalkeepers: Kim Seung-gyu (Vissel Kobe), Kim Jin-hyeon (Cerezo Osaka), Cho Hyun-woo (Daegu FC)

Defenders: Kim Young-gwan (Guangzhou Evergrande), Jang Hyun-soo (FC Tokyo), Kim Jin-su, Choi Chul-soon (both Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Go Yo-han (FC Seoul), Kim Min-woo (Suwon Samsung Bluewings), Kwon Kyung-won (Tianjin Quanjian), Jung Seung-hyun (Sagan Tosu)

Midfielders: Ki Sung-yueng (Swansea City), Koo Ja-cheol (FC Augsburg), Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Yeom Ki-hun (Suwon Samsung Bluewings), Lee Jae-sung (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Jung Woo-young (Chongqing Lifan), Lee Myung-joo (FC Seoul), Kwon Chang-hoon (Dijon), Ju Se-jong (FC Seoul), Lee Chang-min (Jeju United)

Forwards: Lee Keun-ho (Gangwon FC), Lee Jeong-hyeop (Busan IPark)