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Russia, South Korea strangers in World Cup opener

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 16, 2014 at 9:26 pm •  Published: June 16, 2014
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CUIABA, Brazil (AP) — Most players at the World Cup need no introduction to a football audience.

When South Korea plays Russia on Tuesday, however, some introductions may be in order — between the teams themselves.

"I don't know the (Russian) names themselves," South Korea captain Koo Ja-cheol said. "But I know their numbers."

Koo was reacting to comments by Russia coach Fabio Capello, who said of the South Koreans earlier Monday that "it's important not to know their names but the characteristics of the players."

South Korea coach Hong Myung-bo was far from insulted by Capello, a man he described as a "world-famous coach I respect very much."

In fact, he understood completely.

"It's not easy for names of Korean players to be memorized," Hong said. "They are difficult names."

If anyone is playing like strangers at the moment, it's South Korea's defenders.

In the warm-up games for the World Cup, the South Koreans lost 1-0 at home to Tunisia — and the margin of defeat could have been much worse — before being thrashed 4-0 by Ghana in Miami last week.

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