South Korea’s national team will suit up for the first time in almost a year when they meet Mexico for a friendly face-off in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, on Saturday.
El Tri sealed an important 2-1 win over South Korea to advance from Group F at the 2018 FIFA World Cup when these teams last clashed. Carlos Vela and Javier Hernandez each scored to ensure Son Heung-min’s late consolation was just that, but neither Mexican attacker remains part of the present-day setup under Gerardo Martino:
The ‘Taegeuk Warriors’ haven’t played together since last December when they beat Japan, China and Hong Kong to lift the 2019 EAFF E-1 Football Championship (formerly the East Asian Cup).
Paulo Bento’s side are almost certain to suffer some ring rust as a result, especially given Saturday’s foes have already played three games in 2020 and are unbeaten in their last eight.
What TV Channel is Mexico-South Korea on?
Mexico’s clash against South Korea will be available to watch via TUDN or Univision, with kick-off set for 3 p.m. ET. You can live stream international matches on fuboTV.
The last two encounters between these countries has gone in favor of El Tri, but the all-time head-to-head is evenly poised at three wins apiece. They’ve drawn twice in seven meetings, though the Asian representatives won a penalty shootout in the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarter-finals following a goalless stalemate (the only time this pair have failed to produce a goal).
Mexico triumphed in their first and most recent matchups with South Korea, both of which took place in World Cups. Their inaugural clash at the 1998 tournament ended 3-1 for the Central Americans, but it was another 16 years and four meetings before they added another victory in this fixture.
Martino has taken no half-measures in his selection despite the friendly status of upcoming games with South Korea and Japan, with not a single uncapped player present.
Hirving ‘Chucky’ Lozano will attract attention following a streak of improved form for Napoli, already just one goal shy of matching the total scored in his maiden season in Naples (five):
Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Raul Jimenez—the only Premier League-based player in Mexico’s squad—has well and truly cemented his spot as the frontman of choice for El Tri. The 29-year-old has had 16 direct goal involvements (eight goals, eight assists) in his last 11 appearances for the national team, but he’ll take on a South Korean defense that’s kept clean sheets in seven of their last eight games (though largely against lower-tier opposition).
Only five of the eight defenders named in Bento’s latest squad have been capped already, meaning they’ll lean favorably on their experience in midfield and attack to get a result Saturday.
Undoubtedly the greatest among South Korea’s talents is captain and Tottenham Hotspur talisman Son, who was named Premier League Player of the Month for October 2020:
Hwang Hee-chan is another worth monitoring after he became the latest player to join RB Leipzig from Red Bull Salzburg in the summer, while Lee Kang-in has featured prominently in Valencia’s attack this term.
How to Watch Mexico vs. South Korea
When: Saturday, November 14
Where: Wiener Neustadt Stadium, Wiener Neustadt, Austria
Time: 3 p.m. ET
TV: TUDN, Univision
Live Stream: fuboTV (watch for free)
It’s been over a year since Hernandez last represented Mexico, with form sorely lacking since he joined the LA Galaxy in January and became the highest-paid player in Major League Soccer.
It seems likely the 32-year-old may have had his last minutes in national team colors after Martino lauded his current attacking trident during the last international break, via ESPN’s Tom Marshall:
The form books suggest Mexico will get the win in Wiener Neustadt, having done so in nine of their 11 last matches. Argentina are the only team to inflict defeat upon Martino’s men over the past two years, with friendlies often treated as a good opportunity to test their levels.
Between that robust attitude, a thriving pool of Liga MX and European-based talents, as well as South Korea’s recent inactivity, El Tri have every reason to be confident ahead of their first fixture in Austria.