When Bae Joon-ho and other ambiguous foreigners join the team… Hwang Sun-hong “must prepare a Plan B”

“There are a lot of variables, but we are hopeful and waiting for answers. But we also need to think about Plan B.”

Hwang Sun-hong, the head coach of South Korea’s U23 men’s national soccer team, had mixed feelings about the team’s preparations for the 2024 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U23 Asian Cup, which doubles as the final qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics, at the Icheon Sports Complex on Monday. Eighteen players from the K League have begun their warm-up, but five overseas players, including key players Bae Jun-ho (Stoke City), Yang Hyun-joon (Celtic) and Kim Ji-soo (Brentford), are expected to join the squad around the start of the tournament on Sept. 15 after completing their 홀덤사이트 club commitments.

The top three finishers at the Asian Cup will qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics. A fourth-place finish would force a playoff against fourth-ranked Guinea in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) qualifiers. If South Korea qualify for the Olympics, they will become the first team in history to qualify for 10 consecutive Olympic Games. “It’s really difficult to qualify for 10 consecutive Olympics, but we have to do it,” Hwang said, adding, “It’s going to be a tough competition. But we will definitely achieve our goal.”

The timing of the overseas athletes is still undecided. “We’re trying to decide quickly, but it’s hard to say right now. They will join the team on the 13th and 14th,” he said, adding, “It is important to balance the positions. We will fill in the gaps with K League players,” he emphasized.

Hwang took over as interim head coach of the senior national team and returned to the U-23s immediately after the team’s two games against Thailand in the second Asian qualifier for the 2026 North American Championship on Sept. 21 and 26. “I don’t mind doing this for the whole year. When I have good energy, the whole team can come alive,” he explained.

South Korea will open Group B next month with a first-round match against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Nov. 17, followed by China on Nov. 19 and Japan on Nov. 22. The top two finishers will advance to the quarterfinals. “All 16 teams are not easy, so it depends on how we prepare,” Hwang said, adding, “The players have a strong will to go to the Olympics. We will work together to achieve our goal.”

Ahn Jae-joon (Bucheon FC), who won gold with Hwang at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games last October, said, “I’m looking forward to the match against Japan. “We will not lose,” said Ahn, who won the gold medal with Hwang last year, “and we will go into the tournament with confidence. The U23s will leave the country on Friday for a training camp in Dubai, UAE, before arriving in Qatar on Tuesday for the tournament.