Following a schedule change, the South Korean men’s football team will play back-to-back matches in Southeast Asia next month, the sport’s national governing body said Tuesday.
An official from the Korea Football Association (KFA) said South Korea’s friendly match versus the United Arab Emirates (UAE), initially set for June 11 in South Korea, will instead take place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on the same day.
The venue and the kickoff time have not been determined, the official added.
Five days later, South Korea is to travel to Thailand to face Myanmar in the second round of the Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
With Myanmar, the home team for the match, serving FIFA sanctions for crowd-control issues, that contest will take place in the neutral venue of Bangkok.
According to the KFA, South Korea’s playing schedule has been affected by another qualifying match to be played in a neutral site.
The UAE is scheduled to face Timor-Leste in the qualifier on June 16. Timor-Leste is the home side, but lacking a viable stadium for a match of such magnitude, Timor-Leste instead settled on Shah Alam Stadium in Shah Alam, Malaysia, as its alternate venue.
According to the KFA, the UAE balked at playing South Korea on the road and then having to travel to Malaysia for a qualifier five days later. South Korea then offered to relocate the friendly match to Malaysia.
There remains one final wrinkle to be ironed out: on June 11, Malaysia will host Timor-Leste in its own World Cup qualifying match in Kuala Lumpur. The KFA official said the Football Association of Malaysia has asked that the South Korea-UAE match be pushed to June 12, so that it won’t overlap with Malaysia’s qualifier.
The official added that South Korea would still like to play the UAE on June 11, as scheduled, because it would like an extra day of rest before facing Myanmar.
Head coach Uli Stielike is expected to announce his traveling squad around June 8.