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Home Depot Center to Host International Friendly on January 22

CHICAGO (December 13, 2004) — 2002 FIFA World Cup semifinalist Korea Republic will take on 15th-ranked Sweden in an international friendly Saturday, January 22, 2005 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.  Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. PT.  The second-ever meeting between Korea Republic and Sweden has been scheduled as an important tune-up as both sides continue their paths through FIFA World Cup qualifying in their respective regions.
The Korea Republic are awaiting the beginning of final round qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup along with seven other finalists from the Asian Football Confederation.  Divided into two groups of four teams each, the top two finishers in each group will automatically advance to the finals in Germany.  The fifth-place finisher will compete in a playoff against the fourth place team from CONCACAF for the final berth in the tournament.   Drawn into Group A along with Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan, the Korea Republic opens group play Feb. 9 home to Kuwait.
Sweden currently sit atop Group 8 in UEFA’s qualifying tournament for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, holding a 3-1-0 record with a remarkable 14 goals for and only two goals against.  Joined by Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Iceland and Malta, their lone setback came in a 1-0 loss to Croatia on Sept. 8 in Gothenburg, Sweden.  The eight group winners and two best second place teams qualify directly for Germany, while the remaining six second-place teams will be paired for a home-and-home playoff, with the winners booking a place in the World Cup finals.
Tickets ranging in price levels from $18 to $45 go on sale to the public starting Tuesday, December 14 at 10 a.m. PT through Tickets will also go on sale by phone (213-480-3232 in L.A.; 714-740-2000 in Orange County; 619-220-8497 in San Diego), at all Ticketmaster ticket centers throughout Southern California (including Robinson’s-May, Wherehouse Music and Tower Records), and at the Home Depot Center ticket office. Groups of 20 or more can call U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290.
Korea Republic, currently ranked 24th in the FIFA world rankings, enjoyed the most successful tournament in team history when they co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup.  After finishing in first place of Group D, which included a 1-1 draw against the United States, the Koreans got past perennial powers Italy and Spain before falling to eventual runners up Germany.  Korea is set to host a rematch of that semifinal contest Dec. 19 in Busan.
Sweden has a long and storied history in international competition and is one of the most consistent performers in the world.  The nation of nine million people has reached the World Cup finals ten times, including an appearance against Brazil in the championship match during the tournament they hosted in 1958.  Most recently, the Swedes finished in third place in USA ’94 after beating Bulgaria 4-0 in the consolation match.  Rugged and organized at the back, Sweden boast an array of attacking talent led by Celtic legend and current Barcelona forward Henrik Larsson, Arsenal’s Fredrik Ljungberg, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Inter Milan.