South Korea hope to have kept their tactics against Sweden a surprise by swapping shirt numbers in recent training sessions and matches, coach Shin Tae-yong has said.
Shin Tae-yong hopes his side’s first World Cup opponents will be hampered by not being able to distinguish between several of his players. Shin’s men kick off their World Cup campaign in Nizhny Novgorod on Monday in what has been described as a must-win match, with Mexico and Germany the other opponents in Group F. Players have been seen wearing different numbers during preparations for the finals in Russia and Shin says it was a deliberate ploy to confuse any Sweden scouts ahead of the match.
“In my opinion, I think when the Europeans look at us Asians, I think it could be one of the reasons,” he told a news conference. “I think we wanted to confuse the Swedish team. That’s why we did that.” Asked to elaborate, he said: “We swapped them around because we didn’t want to show our opponents anything. Ki Sung-yueng is probably known, as is Son Heung-min, but for the other players it might be a little bit confusing.”
“It’s very difficult for Westerners to distinguish between Asians and that’s why we did that.” He added.
Sweden are without Zlatan Ibrahimovic at a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2000, their record goalscorer now retired from international football. The much-travelled striker had been the team’s talismanic figure in the past.