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Ahn Joins National Team on Leave of Absence from Army

Posted June. 10, 2003 21:51,   


Ahn Jung-hwan will join the national soccer team for the game against Argentina. Umberto Coelho reportedly requested for his return. Coelho demanded, after the shutout defeat against Uruguay on Sunday, "We need Ahn. Argentina is a powerful, top-notch team around the world. Ahn is the most reliable striker."

The Korea Soccer Federation officially requested for Ahn`s leave of absence. After the shutout defeat, soccer fans logged onto the Defense Ministry`s homepage and jammed it, demanding Ahn`s return to the national team for the upcoming game. So burdened, the Ministry easily agreed to the demand and made things easy.

The Argentina game will be the last one of the three A-match series commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Korea/Japan World Cup. After this game, the South Korean national team will no longer take on a European or South American team until the end of this year. In other words, there is no chance to boost our pride of soccer power against a worldly strong team. In addition, after the game, Coelho will go on a vacation for one month from Friday.

Therefore, South Korea has to beat Argentina by all means. That is why the national team needs Ahn.

Coelho put Choi Yong-soo alone up on the front during the past three games. But, Choi did nothing. Therefore, Coelho is likely to replace Choi with Ahn. Furthermore, Choi got injured in his right thigh in the Uruguay game.

Sejong University professor Lee Yong-soo said, "Ahn could play either the midfield or the one-top position. He is the person who will make Coelho happy. It would be better off putting him in the starting lineup. If he simmers down, then Coelho can replace him with another."

Ahn gave the first goal and win to Coelho against Japan last month. After the Argentina game, he will go straight back to the army.

When the Ministry of Defense announced Ahn`s return, quite a number of critiques were posted on its website, accusing the lack of principle on the part of the government.

Sang-Ho Kim Jong-Koo Yang hyangsan@donga.com yjongk@donga.com