Go to contents

Don’t Be Complacent; There is No Such Thing as a Weak Team

Don’t Be Complacent; There is No Such Thing as a Weak Team

Posted December. 10, 2004 22:29,   


“It is neither good nor bad. We can win only with thorough preparation.”

Hong Myung-bo (35), who is often called “Forever Libero,” gave a measured response to the Asian Preliminary Draw for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, unlike other experts who said, “It is fortunate for Korea not to compete with Iran.”

“I feel uncomfortable with the fact that we have to compete with Kuwait. Maybe that’s because I remember we played a hard match with the Kuwaiti team in the past. Furthermore, the Uzbekistan team has improved considerably recently…. ”

As an experienced player who has participated in four consecutive FIFA World Cup games, from the 1990 Italy Games to the 2002 Korea-Japan Games, and as a respected senior of the Korean national soccer team players who played in 135 A-matches (matches between national teams), Hong gave advice to the national team players on December 10.

“Don’t be complacent because you don’t have to compete with Iran. As you might have learned from the recent difficult matches with the weak teams, you are put in a difficult situation whenever you’re relaxed. That is what soccer is all about. You should analyze competitors thoroughly and methodically, and prepare for the matches.”

He inferred that it was due to a lack of preparation and excessive pride that Korea, Asia’s soccer powerhouse, recorded the first win ever in the World Cup in 2002.

Hong said, “Kuwait is a dark horse that should not be taken lightly, and the mere thought of the Kuwaiti team makes me shudder.” He explained that he played in three matches with the Kuwaiti team as a Korean national team player and only remembers that matches with the team were so hard. Korean national team beat the Kuwaiti team, 1-0, in the 1990 Beijing Asian Games, but was defeated by the team in the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games (1-0) and the 1996 Asian Cup (2-0).

“The Kuwaiti players bother the Korean players, and stick with us during the game. I don’t think it is a jinx, but I’m sure that the team will cause a difficult time for the Korean team.” Actually, Korea is inferior to the Kuwaiti team according to the team’s record, showing six wins, three draws, and eight losses.

“We easily beat Uzbekistan in two matches for the final preliminary matches of the 1998 France World Cup. But these days, the team has improved its skills significantly, by learning the European-style of powerful play. Saudi Arabia, which shows great techniques like the Latin American teams, is also a headache for the Korean team.”

Hong said, “A national team requires harmony between new and experienced players. Experienced players should not boast, and new players should not be timid. You should compete fairly with one another to become a major player.”

Meanwhile, other teams in Group A cited Korea as the strongest team. Gabriel Calderon, the Saudi Arabian national team coach, said that Korea is a strong candidate which will achieve a ticket for the main tournament. Mohammed Ibrahim, coach of the Kuwait national soccer team, also said that he couldn’t deny that his team is arranged with very strong teams. Jurgen Gede, head coach of the Uzbekistan team, pointed at Korea as the strongest competitor in Group A.

Sang-Ho Kim Jong-Koo Yang hyangsan@donga.com yjongk@donga.com