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We Can Make It!

Posted January. 22, 2003 22:57,   


Winter is being melt down by the enthusiasm of female worriers for achieving their goal.

With the mercury dropped down to -6°C and snow falling down from the sky, the National Football Center in Pahjoo City, Kyunggi Province, was echoed in shouting of vitality bellowed out by female football players representing South Korea:

"We can make it, too!"

The national team members were to leave for Australia in order to participate in a 4-country friendly match. Nonetheless, they pitched in their utmost until the very moment they had to hop on a bus to the airport. They were engaged in the interval training, which has earned a nickname "Training of Death" due to its demanding regimen.

This year is for women soccer players. In September, China hosts the Women’s World Cup. 2.5 tickets are assigned for Asia. To get a hand on one of them, the South Korean team has to fight and win over tough opponents like North Korea, Japan and Taiwan in the Asian Championship scheduled for April in Thailand. China will automatically advance to the tournament as a host country. But the other countries will be tough to deal with.

Lee Myung-hwa (30, INI Steel), the senior member of the team, said, "Last year, our men’s team made it to the semifinal in the World Cup. It’s our turn to achieve the same this year. If we succeed in getting a ticket to the World Cup, more club teams will be founded. We have only two now."

South Korea’s star striker Lee Jee-eun (24, INI Steel) confidently said, "Most fans do not even know of our existence. We will demonstrate women can do what the male players did."

"My teammates have dedicated themselves to that goal. I feel confident. People say North Korea will beat us. Not this time, tough. We will beat them in the upcoming Asian Championship."

Ahn Chong-kwon, coach of the women’s team, is no less determined and enthusiastic. North and South Korea belong to the same group in the preliminary. Thus, one of them has to beat the other. North Korea is a powerful team. It, for example, won the championship in the Busan Asian Games last October by tying with China 0-0. Therefore, advance to the World Cup depends on South Korea’s performance against its northern counterpart. If it wins, it would probably advance to the tournament.

Coach Ahn favors the 4-4-2 formation, a strategy intended for breaching North Korea’s same formation.

In the upcoming friendly match, South Korea, Mexico, Sweden and Australia will participate. Among the four, Sweden stands out. It moved up to the quarterfinal in the ‘99 World Cup held in the United States. On the other hand, South Korea failed in the preliminaries.

"We will demonstrate to them how powerful we are."

Moving into the boarding area at the Incheon International Airport to leave for Australia, they showed a firm resolution on their face.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com