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Sasa for the National Team? Well….

Posted August. 22, 2001 09:51,   


A player is remembered whenever the strikers of the Korean National Soccer Team misses decisive opportunity right in front of the opponent`s goal post. The player is the militia from Yugoslavia, Sasa (29. Sungnam Illwha), who is recording most total goal scoring among foreign born players (181 games 75 goals 19 assists).

As he scored the game-tying goal at the Posco K League game against the Jeonbuk held right after the Korean national team lost to Czechoslovakian team 0-5, Sasa, who had declared `naturalization to Korea` as a condition to be selected for the Korean national team at the end of last year, shared co-leader in scoring with Hyundai`s Paulini with eight goals.

Especially, the game was meaningful since it was a showdown against Kim Do-Hoon (Jeonbuk), one of the regular strikers for the Korean national team.

If one understands that a national team is a composition of a country`s best professional players, putting Sasa, who already declared naturalization, into the national team seems be a natural order. In particular, Sasa has earned the triple crown in 1997 with the Busan Daewoo, a championship in 1998 with the Suwon Samsung, and the quadruple crown in 1999 since he came to Korea in 1995 lifting his team to the top wherever he goes. He even earned an honorable nickname of the `championship contractor`.

Nevertheless, for now, a chance for Sasa to join the national team is pessimistic. The problem is not the emotional rejection made by Koreans toward a foreign player, but that he does not get along with the style of Guus Hiddink, the manager of the Korean national team.

The playing style of Sasa is to score with his accurate location selecting ability and keen shutting sense, rather than creating chances by running hard. On the other hand, the Hiddink style is, as he has always emphasized, `every player should be able to deal with any position`, to create a masterpiece by constantly breaking the players` position during a game improving the game`s strategic completeness. For this reason, only players who are diligent and running endlessly can fit into his style.

Depending on his crutches, Hiddink tossed a meaningful joke to Sasa, who finished the Adidas Cup season-opening game against the Jeonnam on March 25, at the airport by saying ``I can walk better than you.``

Sasa is consistently saying that the condition for him to be naturalized is to be selected for the national team. Yet, up to now, the chance to see a `second Sin Eui-Son` is almost zero percent.

Bae Keuk-In bae2150@donga.com