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Seeking Goals Through Corner-Kicks

Posted April. 24, 2002 09:27,   


The Korean national soccer team is in full-scale training for the 2002 World Cup at National Football Center (NFC) in Paju on the 23rd.

There was a secret training session on the day, as nobody, including reporters, was allowed to enter. The national team’s secret training took place for the first time since coach Guus Hiddink took control. Considering that every training session was opened to the public so far, the day’s session was definitely a `secret` that prepared a `hidden card`.

As the field entrance was prohibited, reporters had to find the players vaguely from the hill behind the lodgings through wire entanglements near the field.

The day’s training repeated on effective penetration through enemies’ defense and scoring goals. It was based on strong and weak points of the 2002 World Cup’s other Group D nations, Poland, U.S.A., and Portugal, which were analyzed before hand.

Especially, the core of the day’s secret training was set-play. So-called `set piece`, set-play, deals with stationary situations like free kicks or corner kicks, as they have great possibility for scoring goals. If the day’s training came out, other teams could use counter strategies.

The day’s set-play training has a point in playing out on specific set of plays at corner kick situations. Hiddink made Yoon Jung-Hwan, Lee Chun-Su, Song Jong-Kuk, and Lee Eul-Yong repeat corner kicks at both sides, and 5 or 6 strikers headed the balls in competition.

Also, completion of promised set-plays, where an exclusive free kicker controls near-goal free kicks, continued. 2 players made a pair to compete for scoring a goal first.

Hiddink ordered absolute secrecy to not only the coaching staff or players, but also to the team’s press supervisor Hur Jin. Hur did not even appear at the scene staying at the lodgings, because he wanted to have no contact with press reporters.

“Training will focus on how we can seize at our competitors Poland, U.S.A., and Portugal. There is no secret in football, but closed training may be helpful once in a while,” said Hiddink on the previous day. He added that the afternoon session on the 24th is also a secret training, and there may be a few more in future.

In World Cups or major international matches, participating nations hold training sessions after deciding whether they should be opened or closed to the public. Even if they are opened, players usually hide their numbers, or exchange uniforms. There is only one reason. That is to minimize power exposure. Especially, video exposure of training can provide enormous amount of information to other teams.

KBS commentator Hur Jung-Mu said, “As all focus is on soccer at World Cups, each team seeks information of others. Secret training is often needed, because it is quite important to hide information for strategies like set-play.”

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com