Go to contents

National Team Only Needs Draw to Advance

Posted April. 28, 2004 21:40,   


The Korean Olympic national soccer team is looking to secure a berth in the 2004 Athens Olympics in its upcoming qualifying match against China.

The stage is the Athens Olympics Final preliminary round 5th match, which will take place in Changsha, China on the 1st of next month. The Korean national team, which departed on the 27th, stands on top of group A with 12 points thanks to four previous consecutive wins, and needs only a draw against the Chinese team to qualify.

Korea brought in the "World Cup Taegeuk (The Great Absolute) Warrior," Park Ji-sung, from aboard and organized a powerful team, including Jo Jae-jin (Suwon), Kim Dong-hyun (Suwon), Choi Sung-guk (Ulsan,Hyundai) as the team headed to the enemy territory.

Coach Kim Ho-gohn commented, "Some people think we already qualified, but we haven`t clinched a spot yet. Even though China dropped behind in the preliminary rounds, we need to keep our eyes on the ball."

The biggest obstacle Korea has to overcome is home ground advantage. The main goal for China in the match is to get rid of its "fear of Korea," because its team has failed to advance to the main round with a record of 1 win, 1 draw and 2 losses. China, which has recorded 10 draws 15 losses with its national team and 1 draw and 6 losses with its Olympic team over the last 26 years, with no wins, is determined to prepare for revenge.

The Chinese team has also established a "foundation project" to defeat Korea. The Chinese team, led by coach Shun Shang Foo, set a base camp at Changsha over a month ago to prepare for the battle against Korea.

Changsha is a holy city of Hunan with a population of 5.6 million. It`s an ancient city as well as the hometown of the deceased Mao Zedong, and it contains the soul of the establishment of the country for the Chinese people. The place became a topic when a photograph of team captain Du Wei and goalie An Qi visiting Mao Zedong`s home was plastered on the front pages of Chinese media before they entered base camp.

The reason why the Chinese team insists on playing in Ha-Rong stadium against the Korean team instead of in Wuhan stadium with good facilities, where they played against Iran and Malaysia, is because the team is expecting surplus strength on top of the team`s objective strategy. The frantic support from the Changsha`s impetuous "Yong Sun Fong" fans will be a burden to the Korean players.

The Korean team coach Kim Ho-gohn said, "The biggest foe will be the home-field advantage and the enthusiastic support of their fans. I emphasized to the players not to be agitated. It will be a one-goal decisive match so concentration will be the decisive factor of victory."

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com