South Korea to play their first friendly of 2020 against Mexico, in Austria


The South Korean FA (KFA) have been figuring out how to play a friendly this year over the past few days and against who because of the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused international football in Asia to grind to a standstill. 

South Korea manage to find some opposition for a friendly

News broke earlier in the week on Twitter that the KFA was trying to find teams to face in a friendly at a neutral venue in Austria. The situation has been extremely complicated as currently any player called up for the squad, would have to undergo quarantine when returning to Korea (at the time of writing). 
Therefore K League clubs could potentially be miffed if their best players are taken out of their squad for a friendly in Europe and then upon their return find themselves stuck in quarantine.

On the other hand, the KFA needs to find a way to get the team playing again, because if the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) are determined to push on with World Cup qualifying next year, then South Korea getting a few friendlies in is going to be majorly beneficial for them. 

The reason it will be beneficiary is that all Asian nations but the very top tier have had no football for at least eight months, then by the time qualifying re-commences, national teams in Asia won't have played competitive matches or friendlies for over a year (give or take).

This would provide those teams that are in a position to arrange matches in a position of advantage you would believe when or if international football in Asia ever starts again. 

Mexico will provide stern opposition, and Korea could call up a Euro-centric squad

Mexico will provide stern opposition for South Korea, they are currently ranked 11th in the world, and are always a difficult nation to play against. The last time these two sides faced each other was in the 2018 World Cup, where Mexico ran out 2-1 winners, with goals coming from Carlos Vela and Javier Hernandez. South Korea scored a late consolation through Son Heung-min, so these sides should be fairly well known to each other, but a lot can change in two years. 

The other important informational nugget we can take from the announcement about the friendlies is that we should expect South Korea to mostly used European based players where they can, especially if quarantine and travel restrictions are in place all. 

If COVID-19 is still badly affecting many countries around the world, then I think it would be most likely that South Korea will call up as many European based players as they can. 

If COVID-19 is beginning to become under some kind of control, however, then Paulo Bento is likely to call up any bloody well squad his wishes (he may still do that anyway, who knows for sure in a year as mental as this one).

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