Uli Stielike has a selection headache ahead of South Korea’s friendly against United Arab Emirates as a combination of injuries and military service has left his options depleted.
Swansea City’s Ki Sung-yueng is among the absentees for Thursday’s friendly in Kuala Lumpur as the midfielder recovers from surgery on his knee last month.
Seongnam defender Lim Chia-min (foot) and Jeonbuk Motors’ Kim Kee-hee (heel) are also unavailable through injury.
Head coach Stielike must also make do without Mainz duo Park Joo-ho and Koo Ja-cheol, Augsburg’s Ji Dong-won and Wigan Athletic’s Kim Bo-kyung, as the quartet are undergoing four weeks of military service.
“It’s not a good situation, but I’m not looking for excuses,” Stielike said.
“Sometimes, one player’s misfortunes can lead to a lucky break for another, and it’s important to stay prepared at all times.
“The new faces will have to make their mark so that they can keep getting selected in the future.”
Suwon Bluewings midfielder Yeom Ki-hun returns to the international fold after over a year out of the fold, having impressed with seven goals in 13 K-League appearances this season.
Stielike insists that he had no reservations about drafting Yeom, who turned 32 in March, back into the team.
“There is a question how a 32-year-old will contribute to the national team’s World Cup campaign after qualification,” he added. “However, it would be nonsense to ignore a K-League player who scores and assists the most.”
South Korea’s encounter with UAE will act as a warm-up for bigger challenges ahead, with Stielike’s men set to begin their Asian World Cup qualification campaign against Myanmar on June 16, before they play the East Asian Cup, which starts in August.
UAE are playing their first fixture since a brilliant showing at the Asian Cup earlier this year, where they were beaten by 2-0 in the semi-finals by Australia – who went on to defeat South Korea in the final.
Head coach Mahdi Ali’s reward for leading UAE to their best Asian Cup showing since they finished runners-up on home soil in 1996 was a new three-year contract in February.
UAE will also use the match to warm-up for World Cup qualification and they start their attempt to reach the showpiece tournament for the first time since 1990 against Timor-Leste.
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