3 axed from S.Korean World Cup squad, Lee survives

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean coach Huh Jung-Moo cut three players from his World Cup squad on Tuesday, but former Middlesbrough striker Lee Dong-Gook survived the axe.

Huh slimmed down his South Africa-bound contingent to 23 players with forward Lee Keun-Ho of J-League side Jubilo Iwata, and midfielders Shin Hyung-Nin of Pohang Steelers and Koo Ja-Cheol of Jeju United, missing out.

"We have three games and about three weeks. In my own way, I've thought about which members could play in the three games and contribute to the team," Huh was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency.

There were doubts over the experienced Lee Dong-Gook, now playing for Asian champions Pohang Steelers, who has been nursing a thigh injury, but Huh said he will be ready for their second game against Argentina.

Republic of Korea's Lee Seung-Yeoul (L) fights for the ball with Belarus's Aleksand Martynvich (R) during their friendly match in the local stadium of Kufstein on May 30, 2010. AFP PHOTO

"The team's medical and physical training staff agreed that (Lee) would be able to play from the second game. He won't have any trouble playing in the second and third match," said the coach.

Lee, the top goalscorer in the Korean domestic league last year, played at the 1998 World Cup in France but was dropped for 2002 when Guus Hiddink steered them to the semi-finals.

He was all set to play in Germany 2006 but a knee injury prevented him from making the trip.

The Koreans are led by Manchester United star Park Ji-Sung, with Lee Chung-Yong of Bolton Wanderers, Park Chu-Young of AS Monaco and Celtic's Ki Sung-Yueng the other high-profile names.

They are making their seventh consecutive World Cup appearance and have a decent chance of getting into the knockout rounds, although another appearance in the last four may be beyond them.

They get their tournament under way with a must-win match against Greece in Port Elizabeth on June 12 before playing group favourites Argentina in Johannesburg five days later.

The Taeguk Warriors wrap up the group phase with a clash against dangerous Nigeria in Durban on June 22.

They play their last warm-up match against Spain on Thursday in Innsbruck.

Other news