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Changed Coelho

Posted February. 13, 2004 22:44,   


The players were all drenched in sweat after the two-hour training session on February 13 at the Ulsan World Cup Stadium. However, it was not over yet. The players had to run the track again under the order of the physical strength coach Jose Augusto.

"The team’s atmosphere is heating up. One needs to exert himself to the most to survive," commented a player as the players, exhausted from the excruciating runs, shook their heads. Kim Nam-il (Jeon-Nam) said, "I should throw myself into practice in order to secure the starter positions."

The head coach of the Korean team Umberto Coelho (54) had changed. He was no longer a nice uncle next door but rather a drillmaster and called a “tiger coach.”

After he summoned the national team on February 10, he declared, "National players need some sense of responsibility." Intimidating his players, he commented, "Whoever survives the competition will be part of the starting team."

The physical test, which was held two days after the gathering, is designed for Coelho to gather data on the abilities and conditions of the players.

An Jung-hwan (Yokohama), Kim Nam-il, Sul Ki-hyun (Anderlecht), Park Ji-sung (PSV), Lee Un-jae (Su-Won), Choi Jin-chul (Jeon-Buk) were the stars in route to the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup. These prominent stars are no exception of Coelho`s target. He nailed down the key players, saying, "Make up your minds to stay on the team or leave."

This showed a different aspect of Coehlo when he picked up “young bloods” of Kim Young-kwang (21, Jeon-Nam), Kim Doo-hyun (22, Su-Won) and Choi Won-kwon (23, An-Yang). This shows that the head coach opened a new chapter of unlimited competition.

Why did the kind “uncle next door” transform into the “Hulk”?--probably due to his own position being threatened. He wouldn`t be able to preserve the commanding spot if the team loses to extreme underdogs such as Oman and Vietnam like last year, prior to the preliminary rounds of 2006 Germany World Cup and the Asian Cup. The replacement rumor is still lingering at the moment, which makes it worse.

We can`t omit the pride he holds of taking Portugal to the semifinals of the 2000 European Championship and putting Morocco into the top position in Africa. His contract will end this August, and Coelho is determined to stand up for himself and not be a losing coach in Korea any longer.

Coelho will build the best team by throwing in the foreign league players in the match against Oman, which is being held in Ul-San World Cup stadium on February 14.

He set his tactics to revenge the 1-3 upset by Oman last year by positioning An-Jung-hwan as the top striker and Cha Doo-ri (Frankfurt) and Sul Ki-hyun as left and right wings respectively and Park Ji-Sung as attacking midfielder.

"There will be no more defeats for me," said Coelho.

We will wait and see how long the effect lasts.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com