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Korean Women Face China In Olympic Soccer Preliminaries

Posted April. 13, 2004 22:11,   


“Passing over the Great Wall depends on our feet.”

The “Rookie Trio” of the Korean women’s Olympic soccer national team, Cha Yeon-hee (18 years old, Yeo-joo University), Park Eun-jeong (18 years old, Choongjoo Ye-seong women high school) and Lee Jang-mi (19 years old, Young-jin University) are rising as key players for beating China in 2004 Athens Olympic Asia preliminaries, held in Hiroshima, Japan on April 18, and for advancing to the Olympic games.

Korea belongs to group B along with China, Myanmar and Guam. Korea can land in the semifinals safely by beating China because three 1st place teams of each group and one team among 2nd places teams will join in a four-team tournament. Qualifications for the Olympics will be given only to 1st and 2nd place teams overall.

Coach Choi Choo-kyoung said, “I made a shift in generation, with seven or eight new players out of 11. Especially, the attacking trio will show something,” showing his trust in his players. Attack training at the National Football Training Center in Paju on April 13 was focused on the trio.

Goal maker Cha Yeon-hee runs fast, finishing the 100m in 13.4 seconds. She is good at speed because she was a sprinter until the middle of 3rd grade at Kwangjoo Physical Education high school, and she can shoot by throwing herself after a rush.

Paired with Cha, Park Eun-jeong, who was also a sprinter, has fast speed and is good at ball handling and one-on-one penetration. She is also excellent at capturing goals with smart play.

Lee Jang-mi is a playmaker and delivers the ball to the other two. She has a broad vision and passes delicately, so she is called the “Park Ji-seong of the ground.” She also resembles him in the aspect of “strong physical ability” as she is not tired after playing 90 minutes, as well as for her clever play.

Coach Choi remarked, “The trio is the core of our 3-5-2 formation. We have to hold out with quick changes of attack and defense since China is weak in speed because of their tall heights.”

The trio mentioned, “China is a cut above us, but the chances are in our favor if we play with young aspirations.”

The Korean team will depart for Hiroshima on April 14 and play Guam on April 18, Myanmar on April 20 and China on April 22.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com