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There Are No Weak Teams

Posted February. 17, 2004 22:58,   


“Let’s go to Germany.”

Korea soccer makes its first step towards six consecutive World Cups. The first step will be the game held in Suwon World Cup Stadium at 7:00 P.M. on February 18 against Lebanon in the second preliminaries of Asia in the 2006 Germany World Cup.

Korea will play both home and away until this November in Group 7 with Lebanon, Vietnam, and Maldives and will compete in the final preliminaries of next year for 4-5 tickets for the 2006 World Cup. In this second preliminary of Asia, 32 countries are divided into eight groups and play games with all teams in the group. Afterwards, the first place teams from all eight groups will advance to the final preliminary, divided into two groups.

It is expected that Korea, ranked 22nd in the FIFA, will easily land in the final preliminary because it is in the same group with weak teams such as 99th ranked Vietnam, 118th ranked Lebanon, and 141st ranked Maldives.

A long journey to Germany will begin on February 18 when 16 games will be played, including Japan-Oman, North Korea-Yemen, China-Kuwait and Iran-Qatar as well as Korea-Lebanon.

The Korean national team will first take on Lebanon. Coach Umberto Coelho, 54-year-old, built a lineup consisting of all players from foreign leagues, considering the importance of first match in spite of Korea’s dominance over Lebanon with a total of four wins.

He is scheduled to put 10 players among the heroes of World Cup Semifinal in the “Best 11.” Coelho stated, “The initial result is very important. I believe that we can’t be relieved even if Lebanon is a weak team. We will do our best.”

The “presumed best 11” will be Ahn Jeong-hwan, Seol Ki-hyun, Cha Doo-ri and Park Ji-seong for the forwards, Lee Young-pyo, Kim Nam-il and Song Jong-gook for mid-fielders, Kim Tae-young, Choi Jin-cheol, Cho Byoung-gook for the defensive lines, and goalkeeper Lee Woon-jae. Ten players, except Cho Byoung-gook, were starters from the 2002 World Cup.

Coelho said, “Lee Cheon-soo may substitute for Ahn Jeong-hwan, who has a slight cold,” adding, “We will control the game with a fast tempo from the beginning in an effort to score many goals in order to prepare for Lebanon’s counter-attack after their strong defense.”

Soon-Il Kwon stt77@donga.com