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Top defender sees need to develop chemistry with new faces on nat'l team

By Yonhap

Published : Sept. 8, 2023 - 10:33

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Kim Min-jae (right) and Lee Jae-sung of South Korea react to a goalless draw against Wales in the teams' friendly football match at Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff on Thursday. (Yonhap) Kim Min-jae (right) and Lee Jae-sung of South Korea react to a goalless draw against Wales in the teams' friendly football match at Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff on Thursday. (Yonhap)

With the South Korean men's national football team unable to get past Wales in their latest friendly match, defender Kim Min-jae thinks the players need more time to develop cohesion.

Kim played the full 90 minutes of South Korea's goalless draw against Wales in Cardiff on Thursday. The Bayern Munich center back tried to look on the brighter side of things, saying, "I think it was good for us not to concede any goals in such a tough match."

On the other hand, the draw left South Korea head coach Jurgen Klinsmann without a victory in five matches at the helm. The next opportunity to end the drought comes Tuesday in Newcastle, England, against Saudi Arabia.

"I am disappointed that we didn't get the win. We should have played better at a time when we needed a victory," Kim said. "We will try to win the next one. If we can embrace the coach's plans and execute them on the pitch, I think we can get the job done. But I don't think there's any pressure on us."

Kim first played for Klinsmann in the March international match window but sat out two matches in June while completing his mandatory military training. With Klinsmann having named some new faces for this European trip, Kim said, "We've had a big turnover of players here, and I think we'll need more time to try to get on the same page."

Midfielder Hwang In-beom tipped his cap to the Welsh defenders, saying their strong work on the backline made life difficult for the South Koreans.

"Wales are a great team, and we had difficulty generating scoring chances," said Hwang, who recently left Olympiacos FC in Greece and signed with FK Crvena zvezda in Serbia. "We need to be more precise in our offensive buildup. But the fact that we didn't concede any goals should help us in the next match."

Hwang admittedly was not in his optimal match shape, having missed time at the onset of the new season while negotiating his way out of Greece.

"It was my first match in quite some time, and I wasn't all that sharp out there," he said. "I have to get back to 100 percent as soon as possible. If I get to play in the next match, I need to be quicker on my feet and read developing plays better."

Goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu also said he was happy to keep Wales off the board. He held up his end of the bargain too, denying Harry Wilson, Joe Rodon and Ben Davies on close-range chances.

"They had some speedy players on the wings and physical players up the middle. They did their best to capitalize on their advantage," Kim said. "Though we didn't get the win, we executed our plans on the defensive end."

Striker Cho Gue-sung held himself responsible for not coming through with a goal.

"I should have taken more shots and created more chances," said Cho, who has been playing with Denmark club FC Midtjylland since July. "In the Danish league, central defenders tend to be slow. But since the Welsh defenders play in the Premier League, they were physical and also very fast. I have so much respect for the guys who play there, and I have to keep trying to get better." (Yonhap)