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Ahn and Seol in Competition: “I am the Striker”

Posted February. 15, 2004 23:25,   


“Straying around the goal for a chance to score a goal is not the style I prefer. A genuine forward is one who knows ways to cut into the empty space, to confuse the defense, and to break various routes to score.”

This was the comment made by Korean national team coach Humberto Coelho, who led the team to a 5:0 victory against Oman in this year’s first country-to-country match on February 14. After a brief moment of joy as a result of a huge victory after a humiliating loss of 1:3 last year against Oman, he made this remark to trigger friendly rivalry among national team members.

Ahn Jung-hwan of the J-League’s Yokohama Marinos, also known as the Lord of the Ring, and Seol Ki-hyeon, of Begium’s Anderlecht, also known as Korea’s Rivaldo Vítor Borba Ferreira, respectively, claimed to be the “striker.” Ahn scored two goals and Seol one goal and an assist.

“I prefer to be a forward over an offensive midfielder,” Ahn said, expressing his willingness for being at the forefront of the offense. With no intentions of giving up his current position, Seol said, “I played as a single top in my team. I feel comfortable with being a forward, rather than a wing.”

Amid the increasing competition between the two, Coelho considers Cha Du-ri, of Germany’s Franfurt and Choe Seong-guk, Little Maradona, of Ulsan, to be forward candidates. Football watchers expect that the intensifying competition for the forward position will increase the overall scoring ability of the national team.

“The huge victory against Oman has meaning because it has reversed the downbeat mood,” said Shin Moon-seon, soccer commentator with the Seoul Broadcasting System. “The players have regained self-confidence. They will be upbeat.” He added, “I expect to see a series of goals in their game against Lebanon on February 18, like the one in the second round of the preliminary tournament for the World Cup 2006 in Germany.”

Reinforced by top players who play in international leagues, the national team lived up its reputation as one of the World Cup 2002’s four strongest teams, performing impressively in the match against Oman. Attacks by Seol, Ahn, Cha and midfielder Park Ji-seong in turns decimated Oman’s defense. The two wingbacks, Choi Won-kwon and Kim Dong-jin, both of Ahnyang, and midfielder Kim Nam-il of Jeonnam, dominated the midfield by strongly pressing Oman players. The less than smooth coordination between attackers and defenders in the team has yet to be addressed, soccer watchers said.

The national team will return to Seoul on February 17 from Ulsan, where they are currently training, and match Lebanon on February 18.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com