The Korea Football Association (KFA) stated on Tuesday that two South Korean defenders, Beijing Guoan defender Kim Min-jae and Guangzhou Evergrande defender Park Ji-su will not make it to Austria for Mexico and Qatar matches after their Chinese clubs refused to release them.
These matches happen during the FIFA international match window of Nov. 9-17. Although teams are usually bound to release players for FIFA matches, the global football federation has made an exception this year, in consideration of the coronavirus pandemic. If players face mandatory quarantine of at least five days upon returning to their clubs, then clubs may refuse to make them available for international duties.
These matches in Austria are the first two international games of 2020 for South Korea, coached by Paulo Bento, whose World Cup qualifying matches were all wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic. Bento's team played the under-23 national team in two exhibition matches just outside Seoul in early October.
Even before the first match, Bento's backline has been removed. Lee Yong and Hong Chul, two fullbacks originally selected, and both suffered injuries during the two-legged FA Cup final against each other last week. Another fullback, Kim Jin-su tested positive for COVID-19. The KFA named three new players in their stead.
The absence of Kim Min-jae and Park Ji-su will leave South Korea with eight defenders.