S. Korean nat'l football suffers heavy defeat against rival Japan amid strict prevention measures
Updated: 2021-03-26 03:57:28 KST
Japan takes home the win.
In the two rivals' 80th match-up, the South Korean national football team gave up three goals en route to a shutout defeat in Yokohama.
Korea finds comfort though knowing the result comes in the absence of several national team mainstays from overseas including superstar team captain Son Heung-min.
For those who did participate, the Korea Football Association, in cooperation with Japanese authorities, has applied strict health and safety protocols to avoid a repeat of last November when a cluster infection broke out in the national team squad during their stay in Austria.
All players, coaches and team officials had to submit negative COVID-19 tests before they donned face shields and boarded their Japan-bound flight on Monday.
And upon arrival in Japan, they took rapid antigen tests.
They're also being tested daily during their stay, and have been banned from using the sauna, fitness club and swimming pool at their hotel.
But public concern increased after a Japanese national team coach recently tested positive for COVID-19.
Nobody had reportedly been in close contact with him leading Japan to carry on with the event at the Nissan Stadium, where up to 10-thousand fans were allowed to attend.
Despite concerns, Paulo Bento and players had earlier stressed the team's need to stay sharp.
"We have to give it all we've got within the boundaries of what's acceptable. This rival match is the ONLY chance Korea has to prepare for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers."
"Everyone knows it's a tough situation but the staff are doing all they can to make sure we can focus on training for the match while sticking to prevention guidelines in a safe environment."
The Taegeuk Warriors will be exempt from the mandatory 14-day quarantine once they return to Korea on Friday.
Instead, the players will enter cohort isolation for a week at the National Football Center north of Seoul, where they'll be able to practice while undergoing daily COVID-19 tests.
Han Seong-woo, Arirang News.