S. Korean left back trying to overcome World Cup trauma with nat’l team comeback

October 15, 2018

CHEONAN, South Korea, Oct. 15 (Yonhap) — South Korean left back Park Joo-ho said Monday he is trying to overcome “trauma” that he suffered at the 2018 FIFA World Cup following his national football team comeback.

Park returned to the national team for the first time since the 2018 World Cup after he was named to Paulo Bento’s 25-man squad for October friendlies. He didn’t play in South Korea’s friendly against Uruguay in Seoul on Friday, but Park said he is working hard to adjust to the team managed by Bento, who took the helm in August.

“I’m on a new team, and I’m working hard to follow orders to help what this team is trying to do,” Park said at a press conference at Cheonan Stadium in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, where South Korea will take on Panama for a friendly match on Tuesday. “Personally, I’m looking for my first (international) match after the World Cup. I think I escaped the trauma (from the World Cup), but I know I have to be mentally strong.”

South Korea national football team defender Park Joo-ho speaks at a press conference at Cheonan Stadium in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, on Oct. 15, 2018, one day ahead of his team's friendly against Panama. Next to Park is head coach Paulo Bento. (Yonhap)

South Korea national football team defender Park Joo-ho speaks at a press conference at Cheonan Stadium in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, on Oct. 15, 2018, one day ahead of his team’s friendly against Panama. Next to Park is head coach Paulo Bento. (Yonhap)

Park, who is with K League 1 side Ulsan Hyundai, had a disappointing World Cup debut in Russia. The 31-year-old was South Korea’s starting left back, but suffered an early exit from the tournament. He was taken off the pitch 28 minutes into South Korea’s World Cup opener against Sweden following a thigh injury.

The former Borussia Dortmund and Mainz player, who can also play as defensive midfielder, said he is trying to get used to the defensive tactics ordered by Bento.

“What I felt from this team is that whichever player starts, Bento orders them to keep a high defensive line,” he said. “And he asks the players to maintain the line and orders to play the ball wide on the pitch.”

South Korea have not suffered a loss under Bento. They beat Costa Rica 2-0 and had a 0-0 draw with Chile last month before collecting a 2-1 win over Uruguay.

The friendly against Panama will be South Korea’s last home match of 2018. Park said the players are determined to extend a good atmosphere.

“We played good games in the last three matches,” he said. “We need to meet fans’ expectations and we’re in a position to play a good game.”

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