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Preview: South Korea vs Australia

Busan will host the Korean National Team for the first time in 15 years with Australia the first visitors to Korea's second city since Germany in 2004. Legendary names of the games such as Cha Du-ri and Oliver Kahn were present that day as Jo Bonfrere's side overcame Jurgen Klinsmann's Germany in a 3-1 victory. This Friday it's time for new heroes to shine, with the Asiad set to welcome Son Heung-min fresh from Champions League heartache and Cho Hyun-woo amid rumours of a move to Germany.

Last Time Out

Korea 2-1 Colombia

Korea were seemingly one of few nations in the Asian football region to host friendlies over the last international break and boss Paulo Bento will certainly have taken plenty out of two victories against strong South American outfits Bolivia and Colombia. Continuing their front-foot approach to record their second consecutive victory in four days after defeating Bolivia 1-0. Son Heung-min took advantage of some questionable goalkeeping early on to give the hosts the lead before the Taeguk Warriors were pegged back just after the break in Seoul. With Hwang Ui-jo leading the line, Holstein Kiel's Lee Jae-sung curled in a controlled strike from 20 yards to bag his first goal in 10 for the national team.

United Arab Emirates 1-0 Australia 

Australia's last national team gathering ended in bitter disappointment as they crashed out to eventual losing semi-finalists U.A.E. After unconvincingly scraping past Uzbekistan, Graham Arnod's Socceroos looked on course for another tight encounter before Milos Degenek made a mistake he will most likely never forget and played the ball directly into the path of Ali Ahmed Mabkhout to round Matt Ryan and tap home. Despite dominating possession and firing more shots at goal, Australia looked toothless in front of goal. Goalkeeper Ryan joins fellow internationals Jackson Irvine and Massimo Luongo in the group left at home for the trip to Busan, with only eight from the U.A.E match in the travelling squad. One of those added to the latest incumbent is Suwon Bluewing's striker Adam Taggart.

Previous Meetings

The pair last met in a friendly just seven months ago in Brisbane with Korea succumbing to a frustrating last-minute equaliser from Luongo. Hwang Ui-jo scored a clinical opener for the visitors with the draw forming part of a 12-game unbeaten run. QPR's Luongo also bagged for the Socceroos in the two side's previous meeting in the 2015 Asian Cup final. Suffering heartbreak in extra time after a dramatic Son Heung-min leveler, Sydney played host to one of the most memorable finals in recent history. Playing in Brisbane once more, Korea had defeated the Aussies earlier in the tournament thanks to Lee Jeong-hyup, who returns to Bento's squad this week. Australia's last visit to South Korea was in 2013 for the EAFF Championship, with Seoul hosting a goalless draw under the leadership of former boss Hong Myung-bo.

Who To Watch - Ryan Wiliams

Following Chris Ikonomidis' late withdrawal due to injury, only two players who started the U.A.E game in this year's Asian Cup form part of the squad travelling to Busan. Perth Glory's Ikonomidis will be a miss having enjoyed a sensational season in the A-League, however his absence allows others to take their chance to shine in attacking midfield. With the pace of Adam Taggart on the shoulder, problems for Korea could stem from a good performance from whoever Arnold chooses as his number 10. While Mitch Duke has been brought in as a direct replacement, Rotherham United's Ryan Williams would be the most like for like swap in Australia's squad. Should he get some game time, the 25-year-old will make his long-awaited debut for the national team and potentially link up with brother Rhys. Enjoying their first Socceroos training camp together. younger brother Ryan is adept at breaking through the lines, possesses a great first touch and is capable of playing out wide or in the number 10 role.


My prediction may seem a little harsh on an inexperienced Australia side who will want to take their chance to impress, but Bento has shown before how seriously he takes such friendlies. At near full strength and with a capacity crowd urging them on, an early goal could spell disaster for the Socceroos. Considering the manager's full throttle approach, I also find it unlikely that he will allow his side to take his foot off the gas. While many of Graham Arnold's squad have had a break from match practice in the last few weeks, the majority of Korea's squad have either just finished their domestic season or are mid-way through. One thing that may be difficult to predict is Bento's starting eleven. With a strong Iran side to play on Tuesday, the Portuguese boss may see fit to allow his less experienced players the opportunity to express themselves. You would expect Lee Jeong-hyup and Kim Moon-hwan to feature at least partly in front of their home crowd while Na Sang-ho has a lot to prove having not enjoyed the most prolific of season's in Tokyo.

South Korea 3-0 Australia

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