NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia: South Korea coach Shin Tae-yong on Sunday shrugged off spying by World Cup opponents Sweden, who apologised on the eve of their Group F clash after initially trumpeting their subterfuge.
The teams begin their campaigns on Monday and have been creative in trying to study each other’s tactics in the build-up to the Group F match at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.
A Swedish scout used a house near Korea’s training base in Austria this month to watch training sessions using a high-performance telescope and video camera.
“It took a long car journey up the mountains to reach the house, but it was a perfect spot to observe the Korean team’s training,” Lars Jacobsson, a member of the Swedish coaching staff, said on Sunday.
He had earlier been kicked out of a closed training session, after failing to convince the Koreans he was a passing tourist, and persuaded a local couple to let him use their house, overlooking the training facility, to watch their rivals working on their World Cup routines.
Coach Janne Andersson on Sunday tendered an apology.
“It is very important we show respect for an opponent and if what we did has been perceived in another way, then we apologise,” Andersson said.
“This is something small that has been turned into something much bigger because usually our information about our opponents comes from us watching them play matches.”
It was all no matter to the Koreans, insisted Shin, who said such in-depth analysis of opponents was now the international norm.
In any case, he had a ruse of his own to outfox the Swedes, making his players use different jersey numbers.
“We switched them around because we didn’t want to show our opponents everything and to try and confuse them.
“They might know a few of our players but it is very difficult for Westerners to distinguish between Asians and that’s why we did that,” Shin said.
“All coaches probably feel their opponents are always spying on them. I think it’s perfectly natural that we all try to get as much information on each other as we can.”
Sweden full squad:
Goalkeepers: Robin Olsen (FC Copenhagen/DEN), Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Swansea City/ENG), Karl-Johan Johnsson (Guingamp/FRA)
Defenders: Andreas Granqvist (Krasnodar/RUS), Victor Lindelof (Manchester United/ENG), Mikael Lustig (Celtic/SCO), Ludwig Augustinsson (Werder Bremen/GER), Pontus Jansson (Leeds/ENG), Emil Krafth (Bologna/ITA), Filip Helander (Bologna/ITA), Martin Olsson (Swansea City/ENG)
Midfielders: Sebastian Larsson (Hull City/ENG), Gustav Svensson (Seattle Sounders/USA), Albin Ekdal (Hamburg/GER), Emil Forsberg (RB Leipzig/GER), Viktor Claesson (Krasnodar/RUS), Jimmy Durmaz (Toulouse/FRA), Marcus Rohden (Crotone/ITA), Oscar Hiljemark (Genoa/ITA)
Forwards: Marcus Berg (Al Ain/UAE), John Guidetti (Alaves /ESP) Isaac Kiese-Thelin (Waasland Beveren/BEL), Ola Toivonen (Toulouse/FRA)
South Korea full squad:
Goalkeepers: Kim Seung-Gyu (Vissel Kobe, Japan), Kim Jin-Hyeon (Cerezo Osaka/JPN), Cho Hyun-Woo (Daegu FC)
Defenders: Kim Young-Gwon (Guangzhou Evergrande/CHN), Jang Hyun-Soo (FC Tokyo/JPN), Jung Seung-Hyun (Sagan Tosu/JPN), Yun Yong-Sun (Seongnam FC), Oh Ban-Suk (Jeju United), Kim Min-Woo (Sangju Sangmu), Park Joo-Ho (Ulsan Hyundai), Hong Chul (Sangju Sangmu), Go Yo-Han (FC Seoul), Lee Yong (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors)
Midfielders: Ki Sung-Yueng (Swansea City/WAL), Jung Woo-Young (Vissel Kobe/JPN), Ju Se-Jong (Asan Mugunghwa FC), Koo Ja-Cheol (FC Augsburg/GER), Lee Jae-Sung (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Lee Seung-Woo (Hellas Verona/ITA), Moon Seon-Min (Incheon United)
Forwards: Kim Shin-Wook (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Son Heung-Min (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG), Hwang Hee-Chan (FC Red Bull Salzburg/AUT)