From left are Ulsan Hyundai forward Kim Shin-wook, Bayer Leverkusen forward Son Heung-min and Ulsan goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu, who appear to join the national team for the upcoming Incheon Asian Games.
By Nam Hyun-woo
The roster of the national football team for the upcoming Incheon Asian Games will be announced on Aug. 14, but more attention is being given to who will get three "wild cards," given to players over the Olympic age limit of 23.
They are considered to be critical weapons for the team, which has vowed to end its unsuccessful saga on the Asiad stage and win a gold in Incheon. The event will take place from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4.
Son Heung-min of Bayer Leverkusen is the player the team wants most for the forward position, but it is not clear yet whether his team will send the 22-year-old to Incheon as the Asian Games are not subject to FIFA rules on players' releases.
This has led coach Lee Kwang-jong to prepare a "Plan B" in case of Son's absence, and that has put Ulsan Hyundai forward Kim Shin-wook on his radar.
Lee visited the Seoul World Cup Stadium, Wednesday, to check out the towering striker when he had a K-League Classic match against FC Seoul.
Kim seems to deserve the seat, as he was one of the few players who shone in the national team's campaign in the Brazil World Cup, and the 26-year-old has also expressed his hopes of joining the squad.
Other Ulsan footballers, including goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu, 24, and right back Lee Yong, 28, who both also played in Brazil, are also said to be strong candidates to get wild cards.
Ulsan coach Cho Min-kook said he would be willing to send his key players, even though the team is in the middle of its season.
"I will send them, as winning a gold is more important," he said.
Jeonbuk Hyundai's defensive midfielder Shin Hyung-min, 28, is also one of the wild card candidates.
After joining the team in June from the UAE's Al Jazira, Shin assisted in the team's undefeated run of seven games, helping it to lead the league.
"If he is called up, it will be appropriate to let him go. It's time for Korea to bury the Asian Games ghost, which has haunted them for nearly 30 years," said coach Choi Kang-hee.
After winning the 1986 Games, Korea has failed to reach the final in six straight events, though the Asiad is a relatively easy stage for the country to win gold.
But Shin and other highly-rated players such as Al-Ain's Lee Myoung-ju are not likely to join the squad as coach Lee said earlier that Brazil World Cup experiences will be one of the key qualifications to pick players for wild cards.
"Wild cards will be given to Brazil World Cup team members," he said.
Korea will play its first group match on Sept. 14 with the group draws on Aug. 21.