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Song Jong-Gook, Park Ji-Sung

Posted June. 03, 2001 08:23,   


Song Jong-Gook (22, Pusan Icons) and Park Ji-Sung (Kyoto Purplesanga, Japan) are the new rising stars of the Hiddink`s squad. Both have won the trust from Hiddink as the essential players who have accomplished their own duties faithfully. They are the players, equipping the mental strength and the devotion, which Head Coach Hiddink has required of the National team.

Huh Jung-Moo, KBS soccer commentator analyzed after the game with Mexico at the 2001 Confederation Cup that ``Song Jong-Gook, Park Ji-Sung, Yoo Sang-Chul, and Choi Sung-Yong played well in the midfield to win the game. Among them, especially, Song and Park showed the outstanding performance.``

Actually, Song has assisted Hwang Son-Hong and Kim Do-Hoon to play their roles satisfactorily as a striker in the game. Son who took the charge of the right side of the four-back has cut the flow of the opponent`s offense with the dauntless tackles and the physical aggressiveness, and has passed the ball immediately to the midfielder after snatching the ball. In addition, Song has shown the fabulous offensive performance keeping tune with Park Ji-Sung.

In actuality, Song Jong-Gook has been unlucky even though he has a great ability. Song had led his high school team during `the prime time of Paichai High School` when the team won the title of the President Cup High School Soccer Competition in 1994, and had played as a member of the Teen National Soccer Team.

But Song had to stay mainly at the bench due to the chronic ankle injury since he entered Yonsei University. Although he was selected as a member of the Olympic Team last year, as he had drew attention from Head Coach Huh Jung-Moo, he did not have the chance to be spotlighted due to the continuous injuries of leg and ankle.

Song, however, recovered from the recurrent injuries at the end of last year, joined the National Team, and rose again as he scored the goal in game with United Arab Emirates at the Dubai Cup last February.

Park Ji-Sung, the youngster of the National Team, looks young for his age, but in the ground, he becomes a fierce beast chasing the prey. Park played bridging role, as he diligently moved back and forth between the offense and the defense in the game with Mexico.

Park delivered the offense, penetrating from the midfield to the forefront. When the team was placed on the defensive, he blocked the opponent`s offense as a defensive midfielder.

Park`s devoted play has been praised as his trademark. He has always focused on the physical management such as weight training. Head Coach Hiddink used to say that ``Park`s physical and mental strength is the best among the team members. In spite of his young age, Park has been able to play as a fixed midfielder in the Hiddink squad, because he possesses the physical strength like an iron to play indefatigably during 90 minutes.

Yang Jong-Koo yjongk@donga.com