South Korea U-23 head coach Kim Hak-bum at Incheon International Airport on June 12. © Yonhap News

Games News

Korea football team heads to Jakarta for pre-Asian Games training camp

Date : 13 Jun 2018

Incheon, Korea, June 12, 2018: South Korea’s under-23 men's football coach Kim Hak-bum says that making sacrifices will be the key for his team at the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia, reports Yonhap News. Kim is taking a 25-man squad to a 12-day training camp in Jakarta – one of the co-host cities, along with Palembang, for the 18th Asian Games in August.

The quadrennial competition is open to players under 23, with each team allowed to include up to three overage players. Kim will have to reduce his squad to 20 for the Asian Games, and he said the upcoming camp would help him determine who will survive the cut. "During this training camp, I plan to stress the value of sacrifice and helping each other out," Kim told reporters at Incheon International Airport on Tuesday. "Without sacrifices and help, you can't overcome difficult situations. Our team's motto is 'Fight for Your Teammates’."

Kim added that the goal of this camp, during which South Korea will face the Indonesia U-23 national team and professional clubs, is to prepare the players for the hot and humid conditions they will encounter at the Asian Games, which will run from August 18 to September 2. "This year's Asian Games will be played in brutal conditions that our players haven't experienced before," the coach said, adding that they would face seven matches in 17 days should they reach the final.

South Korea defeated North Korea to win gold at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon and will try to win back-to-back gold medals for the first time. But as much as the team's status as the hunted, trying to earn exemption from the mandatory military service by winning gold will weigh heavily on the minds of his young players, Kim said.

South Korean men must serve about two years in the armed forces, but the conscription is waived for athletes who bring home an Asian Games gold medal. They'll only have to undergo four weeks of basic military training, which would set them on a path to uninterrupted and, in some cases, lucrative professional careers.

"With the military service exemption at stake, there is obviously a great deal of pressure on these players," Kim said. "But if you have so much psychological burden, you can't play well. We just have to shake off that pressure."

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