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S. Korea looks to redeem itself vs. Mali in football friendly

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, Oct. 14 (Yonhap) -- After getting badly outplayed by Brazil last week, the South Korean men's football team will look to redeem itself against Mali on Tuesday.

The 58th-ranked South Korea will host the 38th-ranked Mali in Cheonan, about 90 kilometers south of Seoul, at 8 p.m. Tuesday. This will be the first meeting between the two countries.

South Korea suffered a 2-0 defeat against world No. 8 Brazil last Saturday in Seoul. FC Barcelona standout Neymar and Chelsea star Oscar scored a goal apiece, as Brazil overcame physical, and at times chippy, play by the host.

South Korean head coach Hong Myung-bo said Saturday he was happy with his team's performance against Brazil, adding that his players must have learned from the experience of facing some of the world's most talented footballers. Hong also said the South Korean players gained confidence after going toe-to-toe with Brazil.

South Korea, though, will need more than just confidence on Tuesday. In seven matches since Hong took over in June, the country has managed just one win against three losses and three draws, and has scored six goals in those matches.

The South Koreans chased the speedy Brazilians, in particular Neymar, for most of the match, and they were visibly tired toward the end of the game. Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari offered that the South Koreans appeared to be running on fumes in the latter part of the match.

Scoring woes continued for South Korea, which has just six goals in seven games under Hong, and none by a striker. Four of the goals came in the win over Haiti, and South Korea was scoreless in four of the seven matches.

Ji Dong-won, the only natural striker on the current national team, wasn't the answer against the savvy Brazilian defense that featured Real Madrid's Marcelo, Barcelona's Dani Alves and Chelsea's David Luiz.

With only two days off since the end of the Brazil match, Hong will likely rely on fresh legs who didn't play against Brazil or who only played in the second half.

Son Heung-min, a Bayer Leverkusen winger who played the final 25 minutes as a substitute in the loss, could get the starting nod on Tuesday.

Hong may also choose to deploy offensive-minded players on defense against Mali. Last Friday, fullbacks Kim Jin-su and Lee Yong hardly jumped in on offense as they concentrated on trying to contain Neymar and the other Brazilian attackers. Yun Suk-young and Kim Chang-soo, who have displayed some offensive instincts as left and right fullbacks, are expected to start against Mali after watching Brazil from the bench.

South Korea has qualified for its eighth successive World Cup, while Mali failed to make it out of the African qualification this year.

Mali, however, posted back-to-back third-place finishes at the African Cup of Nations in 2012 and 2013.

Mali's lineup features Seydou Keita, a versatile midfielder who played for FC Barcelona from 2008 to 2012, winning three Spanish league titles and two UEFA Champions League titles in that span. He has scored 23 goals in 84 games for Mali.

The 33-year-old is currently with Dalian Aerbin in the Chinese Super League.

Also for Mali, striker Mamadou Samassa has six goals in 21 international appearances. Currently with Chievo in the top Italian league, Serie A, the 27-year-old has also played for Le Mans, Marseille and Valenciennes in the first-division French competition, Ligue 1.

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