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Depleted Korea Republic fall to Mexico

Wiener Neustadt: A severely depleted Korea Republic lost 3-2 to Mexico in international friendly match at the Stadion Wiener Neustadt in Wiener Neustadt, Austria on Saturday.

Missing six players who had tested positive for COVID-19 just hours before the friendly, Korea Republic conceded three times in a three-minute spell after Hwang Ui-jo had given them the lead in the 21st minute.

SC Freiburg midfielder Kwon Chang-hoon, FC Rubin Kazan midfielder Hwang In-beom, Busan IPark forward Lee Dong-jun and defender Kim Moon-hwan, Ulsan Hyundai FC goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo and Seongnam FC forward Na Sang-ho were the players who tested positive.

The match went ahead as Korea Republic were able to register 19 fit players, with rules requiring teams to have a minimum of 13.

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Korea Republic head Paulo Bento blamed loss of concentration for the defeat.

"We played a solid match. We were able to create a lot of scoring chances, but we also gave up a lot of chances on defence," Bento said.

"We often lost possession of the ball in our own end. We made life difficult for ourselves when we lost the ball in counterattack opportunities. Just when we were playing well, we lost our focus and gave up those three goals."

Despite the troubled buildup, Korea Republic enjoyed a good start with Hwang scoring the opener in the 21st minute.

Mexico, however, took control of the match and after several near misses, equalised in the 67th minute with Raul Jimenez scoring with a header.

Substitute Carlos Antuna gave Mexico the lead when he capitalised on a Korean mistake and seconds later, Carlos Salcedo volleyed home their third.

Defender Kwon Kyung-won pulled a goal back for Korea Republic in the 87th minute. The East Asian side are scheduled to play AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 champions Qatar on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Korea Republic U23 team lost 3-1 to Brazil in a friendly at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo.

The AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 winners are preparing for the delayed Tokyo Olympics.

Photos: Korea Football Association

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