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Korea Puts Out Its Last-Moment Spirit

Posted May. 30, 2002 09:09,   



As the Korean national football team began the wrap-up training at Kyeongju Citizen’s Stadium, Kyeongbuk, on the 29th, harmonious young voices came from the stand, just like sparrows chirping. A group of kindergarten children, a hundred of them, visited the stadium to cheer for the national team.

“I heard the World Cup team came down to Kyeongju, and I wanted the children to get a chance to see them,” said Park Ji-Eun, teacher of Hosung Kindergarten in Kyeongju.

As if they had become `Red Devils`, the children clapped on beats and shouted out `Korea` under the hot sun. The national players stopped the ball and watched them with smiles.

Although coach Guus Hiddink mentioned that “the biggest problem right now is that the players are over-stimulated by the citizens’ expectations and support,” it is obvious that the nationwide support for the team, even joined by such children, will provide firm encouragement.

The players had `sweet rest` for a day, and when they appeared in the field on the day, the atmosphere felt active and light. After receiving a large signature ball and Kyeongju city’s symbol, golden crown, from the city authorities, Hiddink responded, “We will wrap up the training for the time left with our best and show some good games”

The day’s training focused on light warm-ups, repeating the practice patterns acquired until now. After jogging, stretching, and relay running were finished, the field was divided into two halves as well as the players and different training programs were held.

Midfield and offense squads concentrated on developing specific offensive routes to attack the opponent’s goal with 3 or 4 passes from the half line. Group A, consisting of Hwang Seon-Hong, Sul Gi-Hyun, Park Ji-Sung, Lee Young-Pyo, and Yoo Sang-Chul, and Group B, consisting of Lee Chun-Su, Ahn Jeong-Hwan, Choi Tae-Wook, and Kim Nam-Il, repeated practicing quick pass-work to penetrate the opponent. While Hiddink watched the session, he shouted out loud his orders.

On the other side of the field, a mini game of 6 to 6 was held. Choi Yong-Su – Yoon Jeong-Hwan – Choi Seong-Yong – Choi Jin-Chul – Hyun Young-Min – Kim Byeong-Ji wore yellow vests, and Cha Doo-Ri – Choi Tae-Wook – Song Jong-Kuk – Yei Hyo-Jin – Lee Woon-Jae white vests. Lee Eul-Yong in a red vest played as a libero, participating in offense for both teams. Although the players only used half of the field, they not only tried short-passes, but also long-distance shots just like in real games.

Meanwhile, German and Spanish press teams watched the Korean players closely outside the ground.

“We have been doing some hard training for the past few months without any rest, so for the rest of time, we are to do only light training to increase concentration,¡° said Hiddink after the session was over. He mentioned about Hong Myeong-Bo’s ankle injury, as he stayed at home, “I didn’t want to take a risk, so I made him stay back. It’s nothing to worry about”

When asked about taking up Netherlands’ PSV Eindhoven team as a manager, he made a joke, “I haven’t checked my emails yet,” and added, “I am not thinking about anything after the World Cup right now.”

According to football website Daily Soccer on the 28th, Eindhoven’s owner is considering Hiddink as the next manager for the club.

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com