Korea national team, led by manager Cho Kwang-Rae, will travel to Turkey for an international friendly match against Guus Hiddink‘s men on Feb. 9. The fixture has yet to be confirmed by FIFA, but according to reports in both Korea and Turkey, the two respective football federations have reached a mutual agreement for the friendly match.
Barring a last minute cancellation, Korea will play Turkey for the first time in six years. The two sides met in 2004 in Seoul and Daegu for a pair of friendlies in June. Korea, then led by the interim manager Park Sung-Hwa, lost the first match 0-1, but went on to win the second meeting 2-1 thanks to goals by Yoo Sang-Chul and Kim Eun-Jung.
This match will also be the first time the Koreans will face Hiddink as an opposing manager after the Dutchman willed the Taegeuk Warriors to the semifinals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan. The last time Korea played against Hiddink was in the group stages of the 1998 FIFA World Cup France in its humiliating 0-5 loss to the Netherlands.
On and off the football pitch, Korea and Turkey have shared an affectionate relationship. During the World Cup hosted by Korea in 2002, the home fans gave full support to Turkey throughout its memorable run to the semifinals. The fond relationship of two countries was personified when Korea and Turkey met in the third place match in Daegu.
Turkey edged out the home side in a thrilling 3-2 win, but following the final whistle, the players from both teams celebrated each other’s historic runs at the World Cup together in front of the fans. The close relationship of Korean and Turkish football fans continued even after the tournament as they still refer to each other as “brothers” and the K-League and the Turkish Süper Lig have signed a number of players and managers from one another since then.
While Korea’s 2002 World Cup hero Lee Eul-Yong was an integral part of Trabzonspor earlier in the last decade, Turkish manager Senol Gunes in return was a key figure in establishing FC Seoul as one of the biggest clubs in the K-League today. Former Daejon Citizen manager Choi Yoon-Kyum was also employed by Trabzonspor and Çaykur Rizespor as an assistant coach.
According to reports, the Korea Football Association also contacted the world champions Spain and proposed a friendly match which would take place in June.