By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Jan. 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korea overwhelmed Iceland in a resounding 5-1 victory in their men's football friendly match in Turkey on Saturday, flexing their attacking muscle in the first of two tuneup games ahead of World Cup qualifiers.
Four players scored their first international goals at Mardan Sports Complex in Antalya, Turkey, where South Korea set up training camp a week ago.
Forward Cho Gue-sung opened the scoring in the 15th minute with his first career goal for South Korea. Veteran midfielder Kwon Chang-hoon doubled the lead in the 27th minute, about two minutes after getting denied on a penalty by goalkeeper Hakon Valdimarsson.
Midfielder Paik Seung-ho joined the party with his first international marker, finding the top right corner from outside the penalty arc.
South Korea held Iceland without a shot attempt in the first half.
Iceland got a goal back just nine minutes in the second half, with forward Sveinn Aron Gudjohnsen scoring off his own rebound in the box while catching the defense napping.
In the 73rd minute, Kim Jin-gyu, a 24-year-old midfielder making his senior international debut, restored a three-goal lead for South Korea with some great individual effort.
He first set up Lee Dong-gyeong with a deft feed inside the box. Valdimarsson made the save, but the ball bounced back to Kim, who had alertly moved into the dangerous area after making his pass. Kim's initial shot was blocked by defender Damir Muminovic, but the midfielder calmly put the rebound into the open net.
Eom Ji-sung, the youngest player at camp at 19, came off the bench to round out the scoring in the 86th minute. It was also Eom's first international score.
South Korea will play Moldova next Friday, also at Mardan, before resuming their World Cup qualifying campaign later in the month.
Because the ongoing camp and friendly matches aren't part of the FIFA international match calendar, South Korea head coach Paulo Bento doesn't have the services of Europe-based players currently in the midst of their club seasons.
Of 27 players on the national team, 25 are from South Korea's K League and two are from Japan's J. League. Bento typically selects about seven or eight players from European or Middle Eastern clubs for World Cup qualifiers, and the training camp and the two friendlies in Turkey are opportunities for Asia-based players to state their case for inclusion in future matches.
South Korea's next Group A match in the final Asian World Cup qualifying round will be against Lebanon in Sidon on Jan. 27, followed by another away match against Syria on Feb. 1.
With four matches remaining, South Korea are in second place in the group with 14 points, two behind Iran. The top two nations will secure automatic berths at the World Cup, and South Korea can clinch one with a win against Lebanon.
South Korea have played at every World Cup since 1986.