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Thinking Soccer

Posted May. 14, 2001 09:09,   


``The role of policymakers is crucial for the development of the Korean Soccer.``

Guus Haddink, Head Coach of the Korea National Soccer Team, repeatedly emphasized that ``policymakers should play a responsible role in order to drive the Korean soccer to the world level.``

Head Coach Hiddink exposed his blueprint for the preparation of 2002 Worldcup as well as 2001 Confederation Cup in an interview from the Hotel Lotte on 14th afternoon.

-Lee Dong-Gook and Ahn Jung-Hwan were not selected to the third Hiddink team. How do you plan to lead offensive game without such young core players? Wouldn’t it better to give young and highly potential players a chance to gain experience in the big game such as Confederation Cup?

``I regret to say that Lee Dong-Gook and Ahn Jung-Hwan were not selected in the national team. Ahn is recently showing fabulous plays, and thus I will keep my eyes on him. As I have said over and over again, I will use the same players who had been playing thus far.``

-You do not put a playmaker in the midfield. Why? What do you have in mind about the management of the midfield?

``Such player as Zidane of France is exceptional around the world. Playmakers should be excellent both in offense and defense. Such excellent playmakers cannot be made without intensive and long trainings. But we do not have the time to make such players.``

-What do you plan to do with the defensive line, which has been regarded as the weakest part of the Korean soccer team.

``A defensive line is not fixed. All players should be defendants as soon as the opponent players hold the ball.``

-What is the color (characteristics) of Hiddink Soccer thus far?

``Players have begin to understand what to do by themselves. Although there are many factors that should be considered, it is very important that players understand what to do by themselves in their own positions and begin to move as a team. This is the color of my soccer.``

-Please evaluate the strength and weakness of soccer played in Korea. Your standard to select players seems to focus on the body size and physical power. And as long as they are Asians, is it hard to compete physically against the European players? Japan acknowledged the physical limitations of the players, and has preferred players with passing ability and individual skills.

``I cannot agree that Asian players are weaker than the Europeans. Rather, this kind of mentality is a more serious problem. You should think positively to improve the Korean soccer up to the world level.``

-You have experiences in coaching noble teams such as Real Madrid of Spain and the Nederland National Team. These teams have been known as world-top teams. But the Korean team fell behind these teams. Did you find any difference from those teams since you began to coach the Korean team?

There are many differences between the Korean team and those teams. Dutch and Spanish players have very strong physical conditions and excellent skills. But I think Korean players are excellent, too. I will help Korean players to foster more competitiveness.``

-The Korean soccer fans have expected from Head Coach Hiddink `something` beyond the advancement to semiquarter finals in the Worldcup. What do you think will contribute to the Korean soccer up to 2002 Worldcup?

I will help young players to see and learn the training programs that are technologically advanced. My coaching staffs are showing new system for the development of Korean soccer. If Korean players learn from this new training system, they will be able to accomplish good results.

-It is said that you will prepare to beat world-top France team in the Confederation Cup.

``The Korean team has shown the tendency to weaken when encountering a stronger team. Players should take the field with confidence. If they fight against France with more positive thinking, they will get better result.``

-What are the stumbling block to the development of the Korean soccer? And what is its countermeasure?

``The biggest problem is that young players are drafted into the army when they are 18-23 years old. The period is necessary for players to grow. Look at such countries as Italy, Spain, Argentina, Brazil. Because the players in those countries play in the noble teams during 18-23 years old, they can aspire to the world-level players. After all, the policymakers should grapple with this problem. I hope they will solve this problem, not just to recognize it.``

Yang Jong-Koo yjongk@donga.com