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Lee Cheon-Soo Full of Confidence

Posted September. 14, 2001 08:51,   


``Am I only a supporting cast? No way.``

The youngest player in the Korean national soccer team, Lee Cheon-Soo (20, Korea University, photo) is always wearing a smile on his face nowadays. He has been excited to join the national team, for which he was eagerly longing. He is now practicing harder than anyone else in the training camp for the evaluation game with Nigeria from 10th at Taejeon.

Some anticipate that Lee cannot stay permanently in the national team since he was selected to make up for the injured starting members and the absent overseas players. But Lee has never been disappointed at such an opinion. Rather, Lee resolutely said, ``I`m content with the fact that Head Coach Hiddink showed his concern for me. Even though there are a number of veteran players, I think I can be included in `the best 11` for the 2002 World Cup if I work hard.`` And Lee stated very positively that ``I wouldn`t be here unless I`ve been confident. I`m sure that I will be a starting member in the national team.``

In fact, Lee Cheon-Soo has been out of Hiddink`s sight until July. Hiddink did not show any interest for him after watching the game of Korea University, saying that he had a lot of things to learn.

However, Lee began to attract Hiddink`s attention from last month at the training camp in Europe. Lee could join the team by the recommendation of the Technical Dept. of the Korea Football Association and Hiddink gave him a qualifying mark for his energetic and confident play. Head Coach Hiddink expressed the satisfaction for Lee`s outstanding performance in games with a Holland pro-team and the Czech Republic.

Especially, his quick speed, sensitive adjustment, and confident play style moved Hiddink`s heart. As he showed his excellent goal-getting ability to earn the scoring title with 5 goals in the College Football Tournament, Lee proved that Hiddink`s evaluation on him was not groundless. Even if a few existing starting members were excluded, Lee could join the Hiddink`s squad because Hiddink valued Lee`s play.

However, there would be a lot of huddles in order for him to settle in the national team as a starting member. It is inevitable to compete with the older players such as Ahn Jung-Hwan (26, Perugia in Italy) and Seol Ki-Hyun (22, Anderlecht in Belgium) in order to play in the next year`s World Cup. And it is so crucial to control his physical condition just like a professional in order to satisfy Hiddink`s style, constructing the starting line-up only on the basis of the ability of each player.

Lee Cheon-Soo clenched his teeth, saying that ``I`m not gonna lose this chance to play in the national team until the 2002 World Cup with the play full of fighting spirit.``

Yang Jong-Koo yjongk@donga.com