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Korean Soccer’s Chronic Disease Remains

Posted January. 21, 2002 08:40,   


`Lost control of goal decisiveness and defensive focus.`

It was the first CONCACAF Gold Cup Group B match between Korea and U.S.A., which was held at Pasadena Rose Bowl stadium, California. The Korean national soccer team, which recorded victory by 1-0 in last December’s Seogwipo match, lost the game by 1-2 despite the goal scored by Song Jong-Kuk for the draw as the final goal was scored just before the final whistle. In order to enter the final 8, Korea is under pressure to beat Cuba at all costs at the group’s last match on the 24th. If Korea enters the final 8 as the group’s No.2, it will contend with Group A’s No.1, and Mexico is the leading candidate after it beat El Salvador by 1-0.

The team plans to analyze Korea’s problems in both offense and defense as they appeared in U.S.A.’s match.

Overall, the offensive line that connects Lee Ul-Yong – Kim Nam-Il – Song Jong-Kuk – Park Ji-Sung was smooth until they reached the penalty zone. The problem was scoring decisiveness.

First of all, the frontline striker could not acutely manage the centering- ball from the sides, and the shootings were often too straight into the goalkeeper or off the goal posts. It perhaps was offender’s lack of capability, but some say the connecting pass was off the timing. Analysis of the game points out that whichever pass it was, centering or through- pass, it was done after the defense line positioned failing to make space for kickers. Korea, therefore, heavily relied on long- distance shots, except in the case of penalty kick after 6 minutes of 1st half.

Next is the lack of perfection in score opportunities. Players flustered losing chances, and they were too hasty. Korea Football Association’s technical director Kim Kwang-Myung pointed out, "We focused on Lee Chun-Soo’s counterattack, but passes were slow, and striker Choi Yong-Soo had problems keeping the ball."

The U.S. team player Landon Donovan said, "We won because the Korean defense line instantaneously lost focus." As so, Korea’s overall defense line displayed stable formation, but sudden defeat resulted from temporary lack of concentration. The head coach Guss Hiddink’s usual phrase `one mistake leads to defeat in world- level` came true.

Also, the first goal in 34 minutes of 1st half was a mistake from misjudgment of off-side, but the players concentrated on offense and were undoubtedly helpless when the counterattack occurred. As the ball was connected to Carlos Bocanegra from the U.S. defense line, none of Cha Doo-Ri and Choi Yong-Soo took initiative, and Yoo Sang-Chul and Kim Tae-Young were only chasing after the ball that they lost track of Donovan. Hiddink called this situation `strategic problem`.

The situation was similar when the final goal went into the net. Although Korea was inferior in number, players only focused on the ball that they let DaMarcus Beasley in from left. Lee Young-Pyo, who was marking Jeff Cunningham, tried to cover but was late, and it was also too short for Lee Woon-Jae who ran out too late.

Keuk-In Bae bae2150@donga.com