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Night Counting Stars

Posted November. 19, 2002 22:54,   


What lies ahead for soccer fans is a "war of stars."

On one hand, the term "stars" refers to the Brazilian players who put their country on top for the fifth time in the World Cup history. On the other hand, the word indicates the Taekuk Fighters of Korea, who worked out a legend of "World Cup Semifinal." These two groups of stars will take on each other at 7 p.m. on Nov. 20th in the Seoul World Cup Stadium. In the last World Cup, the two teams never met with each other. Therefore, in the upcoming match, none of them can yield to the other. The history favors Brazil with its 2 wins and 1 loss. Interesting points of the big game are as follows:

▽ War of stars; Out of the 3 Rs of Brazil, namely, Rivaldo, Ronald and Ronaldinho will play in the upcoming game, along with other Brazilian star players. Against them are Korean World Cup star players including those playing abroad such as Song Chong-gug, Ahn Jung Hwan and Seol Ki-hyeon.

▽ Ronald v. Hong Myung-bo; Another aspect of the game attracting the fans is the "confrontation" between the world`s best striker Ronald and the seasoned veteran player Hong. Ronald, who has been selected twice as FIFA`s Player of the Year, demonstrated his bombing power in the last World Cup. Even after two years of treatment due to the knee injury, Ronald made an amazing record of 8 goals, breaking once the unbreakable record of 6 goals.

Hong is also determined to win. He has an ample experience of the A matches: playing in 134 games. He even won the Bronze Ball in the Korea/Japan World Cup. That is why he has earned the nickname Eternal Libero. Hong has the ability to read the minds of opponent strikers, and to see the game from the stand. Teamed up with Kim Tae-young and Choi Jin Cheul, he is determined to wrap up his last game on the national team with victory.

▽ Personal skills v. Pressing soccer; What makes the Korean team stand out comes from its ability to press the other teams from the mid-field. By employing this strategy, Korea could advance to the semifinal. Korea plans to tie up Ronald and Ronaldinho, using its strong mid-fielders such as Kim Nam-il, Song Chong-gug and Lee Young-pyo in cooperation with the defense.

Brazil, on the other hand, is armed with fantastic personal performance. Each player of Brazil can dodge off a couple of defenders. In addition, through the teamwork of working like a machine operating smoothly even with numerous cogs, Brazil threatens the other team with short, accurate passes.

▽ Variables; Objectively, Brazil having so many star players, has more chances of winning. The chilly weather, however, will serve as a variable. The temperatures of the Nov. 20th evening will hover around 3-5 oC. Therefore, Brazilian players will have hard time. In addition, it is an away for them.

▽ Last games of Hwang Sun-hong and Hong Myung-bo; By this game, Hwnang and Hong, tow players who have represented Korea for more than 10 years, will wrap up their career as members of the national team. When the game is over, the two are expected to run around the ground, being escorted with their teammates.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com