DUBLIN, March 21 (Yonhap) — South Korean midfielder Kwon Chang-hoon said Wednesday he is ready to sacrifice for the national team when it plays against Northern Ireland and Poland in upcoming friendly football matches.

Kwon, who plays for French side Dijon FCO, is one of 23 players who received a call-up from head coach Shin Tae-yong for the upcoming friendly matches. South Korea will take on Northern Ireland in Belfast on Saturday and will visit Poland three days later.

The two friendly matches are likely to be the final test before Shin decides his final-23 man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

“Shin thinks the team is more important than a player,” Kwon said at the FAI National Training Centre in Dublin, where the national team has been preparing for the match against Northern Ireland. “I don’t want to think about the World Cup selection at this moment but to think about ways to help this team.”

  

South Korean midfielder Kwon Chang-hoon trains at FAI National Training Centre in Dublin on March 21, 2018, three days ahead of South Korea's friendly football match against Northern Ireland in Belfast. (Yonhap) South Korean midfielder Kwon Chang-hoon trains at FAI National Training Centre in Dublin on March 21, 2018, three days ahead of South Korea’s friendly football match against Northern Ireland in Belfast. (Yonhap)

Kwon returned to the national team for the first time since last November when South Korea hosted Colombia and Serbia.

“I think our team atmosphere is great,” he said. “As the World Cup is coming, the coach is calling on the players to get together and to become one unit.”

   Kwon moved from Suwon Samsung Bluewings in the K League 1 to Dijon in January 2017. So far this season, he has netted six goals in 26 matches in the Ligue 1.

“I’m still learning there,” he said. “Europeans have power, and they’re quick, so I’m trying to figure out ways to cope with them.”

   At the 2018 World Cup, South Korea are in Group F, with Germany, Mexico and Sweden. Kwon has a sweet memory against Mexico in the under-23 level when he scored the winner in a 1-0 victory over Mexico at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics. Shin was then the head coach of the South Korean Olympic football team.

“I know the World Cup is going to be different from the Olympics,” he said. “But if we can all defend together, I think we can get a good result because we have good forwards on our team.”

   kdon@yna.co.kr

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