Korean Footballers Arrive in Russia Ahead of World Cup

中央日報
Footballers and coaching staff pose with Korean expatriates on arrival at St. Petersburg in Russia on Tuesday. /Yonhap

Korean footballers arrived at their base camp in St. Petersburg, Russia on Tuesday ahead of the opening of the World Cup on Thursday.

Before coming to Russia, they had trained in Leogang, Austria, where they played their last friendly before the quadrennial event against Senegal and lost 2-0. Kim Shin-wook scored an own goal and Senegal's Moussa Konate converted a penalty in the 91st minute.

Hwang Hee-chan and Park Joo-ho were benched so that they can stay well rested. Defender Lee Yong sustained a cut to his forehead as he was elbowed by an opponent, but won't miss the first match against Sweden on June 18.

Korea chose St. Petersburg as their base camp due to the better training environment over Moscow, although it is farther from the venues for the three group-round matches. It takes one hour and 30 minutes to fly to Nizhny Novgorod, where Korea will face Sweden in the first match, two hours and 10 minutes to Rostov-on-Don for the second match against Mexico on June 24 and one hour and 50 minutes to Kazan for the last third match against Germany on June 27. 

"Although the flying time to the match cities from St. Petersburg is 30 to 40 minutes longer than from Moscow, we thought that if we arrive two days before the match day, it won't affect the players," said Kim Dae-eop of the Korea Football Association.

The national squad will stay at the New Peterhof Hotel in St. Petersburg.

"There is a lake and a park in front of the hotel, and no shops nearby. This will help the players to focus on the matches," said head coach Shin Tae-yong.

They are training at the Spartak stadium, which is 15 minutes away from the hotel by car. As there are no tall buildings and it is surrounded by military facilities, the stadium is ideal for the team to keep their training confidential.

St. Petersburg is the northernmost out of 11 host cities of this World Cup at 60 degrees north latitude, where the sun rises around 4 a.m. and sets after 11 p.m. Such an environment is unfamiliar to Korean players, but certainly very familiar to Sweden. The KFA supplied thick blackout curtains at the hotel rooms so that the players can have sound sleep without being disturbed by the light.

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