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Korea to Advance to Final 8 and Regain Reputation if it Beats Japan

Korea to Advance to Final 8 and Regain Reputation if it Beats Japan

Posted December. 07, 2003 23:01,   


“Let’s go to the Final 8 by beating Japan.”

Korea will take on Japan at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) at 11 p.m. on December 8 (Korean time) in the 2003 World Youth Soccer Championship (under 20 years old). This is the chance for Korea to recapture its damaged reputation since Korea barely managed to land in the final 16 after finishing in third place (1 win, 2 losses) in Group F after losing to U.S.A with a score of 0-2 on December 6.

Japan is in first place in Group D (2 wins, 1 loss). However, the Korean coaching staff determinedly said, “All right, we will be victorious over Japan and advance to the quarterfinals and redeem our poor performances in the preliminary matches.“

Current records show Korea’s dominance over Japan.

After coach Park Seong-hwa took over the team, the Korean youth national team defeated Japan in the final match of the Asia Youth Championship held at Qatar last October to run its consecutive win streak to four against Japan. The overall head-to-head record is 20 wins, 4 draws and 2 losses, clearly dominating Japan.

But this is the first time for Korea to face Japan in the World Championship. Japan is now growing stronger, with victories over England and Egypt.

Choi Seong-gook will start and “Japan-knowing” Kim Dong-hyun and Lim Yu-hwan are all expected to perform well.

Coach Park Seong-hwa plans to start “Little Maradona” Choi Seong-gook, exceptionally brilliant in his individual soccer skills (Ulsan Hyundai), in order to have a chance to win. Coach Park stated his plan to put Choi on the forward line as a starter, commenting, “Talented Choi Seong-gook will heavily pressure Japan. It’s hard for him to play full time, but he is enough strong to stand by the beginning of the second half.”

The partner of Choi Seong-gook as the other top striker will be “Big striker” Kim Dong-hyun. Kim Dong-hyun, belonging to Oita Trinita in the Japan Pro league, hit the exciting winning goal in the match against Japan at Seogwipo on October 29.

For Korean’s defense, Kim Yu-hwan, who plays for Kyoto Purple Sanga in Japan Pro league, takes over the central defense replacing Kim Chi-gon (Anyang LG), who was disqualified from this game because of an accumulation of yellow cards.

Meanwhile, the coach of Japan, Ohkuma Kiyoshi, confirmed his will for victory, saying, “We lost to Korea mostly in friendly matches, but this time will be different because it is a big match with the title of World Championship on the line.”

“A Playmaker” Yutaro Abe (Yokohama Marinos) is the axis of Japan’s offense. Sakata Daisuke (Yokohama Marinos) and Mogi Hiroto (Sanfrecce Hirosima), scoring two goals so far, will appear as the top two players.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com