Jo seizes opportunity in dream start

By Hounche Chung with Korea Republic

Korea Republic coach Shin Taeyong has raised quite a few eyebrows with experimental formations and unexpected call-ups in a series of friendlies in the build-up to the finals. So it was not difficult to anticipate that there would be another element of surprise when he submitted the starting line-up for the Group F opener against Sweden.

However, Jo Hyeonwoo’s inclusion in the starting XI came as a bigger shock than the fact that coach Shin opted for an attack-minded formation. In fact, the 26-year-old had only earned six caps before flying to Russia. And as his kit No23 suggests, he is the third-choice goalkeeper, a position that rarely gets the chance to play in a major tournament.

“I didn’t realise I was going to start until the coach told me just before the game,” Jo told FIFA. “But I wasn’t really surprised, because all the goalkeepers, including myself, are always ready to play whoever gets the chance to. It was fantastic to represent my country on the world stage, but I’m sorry that the game has ended this way.”

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