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South Korea and Netherlands predict tight match despite injuries

Ajax striker Jan Huntelaar is expected to start in attack next to Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt when the Netherlands meets South Korea on Saturday in a soccer friendly celebrating the fifth anniversary of the 2002 World Cup.

The match will be the first time the two teams have met since the Netherlands thrashed Korea 5-0 at the 1998 World Cup.

South Korea co-hosted the 2002 World Cup with Japan, when it reached the semifinals of the tournament.

Both teams are dealing with injury problems ahead of the Seoul game.

For South Korea, Manchester United's Park Ji-sung, Lee Young-pyo of Tottenham and Reading's Seol Ki-hyeon have all had surgery in recent weeks and are likely to miss the Asian Cup which takes place from July 7-29.

Cho Jae-jin, a transfer target of Dutch club Utrecht, will start in the central striking position ahead of Middlesbrough star Lee Dong-gook.

"At this moment, I think the chances of Park, Lee and Seol going to the Asian Cup are one percent," South Korea's Dutch-born coach Pim Verbeek told the Associated Press. "I don't count on them any more.

"The Netherlands are missing some players, but will still give us a tough test," Verbeek added.

The Netherlands arrived in South Korea on Wednesday without Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar, Chelsea's Arjen Van Robben and Clarence Seedorf of AC Milan.

"We have some players with injuries. so it is a good opportunity to test some of our younger players," Netherlands coach Marco Van Basten said.

"I am happy that we can play against Korea, they are one of Asia's strong teams and we came here to win," Basten said.

The Netherlands, which currently leads Group 7 in qualifying for the 2008 European Championships, heads to Bangkok on Sunday for a June 6 match with Thailand.

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