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First Post-World Cup “Return Match of the New Generation” Since the Semi-Final

First Post-World Cup “Return Match of the New Generation” Since the Semi-Final

Posted December. 17, 2004 23:03,   


“Colossal Clash of the Young Guns”

The evaluation match between the Korean and German national soccer teams, to be played at 7:00 p.m. on December 19, will be a testing ground for the teams of a younger generation.

After creating the “semifinal legend” at the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup, the Korean team has been a bit on edge. Presumably, Germany has been experiencing some discordance after winning the semi-final. For this, Johannes Bonfrere (58) of the Korean team and Juergen Klinsmann (40) of the German national team have a common task of renovating their teams.

That is why Mr. Bonfrere formed a team for this match with homegrown, young players with the exception of two playing abroad: Cha Doo-ri (24, Frankfurt) and Cho Jae-jin (23, Shimizu). Coach Klinsmann, the new man in charge of the “rusted tanker” which failed to win even one game in Euro 2004 held in June, seems to have the same thing in mind.

The average age for the Korean team is 24.3, while German’s mean age stands at 25.1. Four new players earned a chance to make their debuts in an A-match between national teams. The two coaches’ strategy for a generation shift is revealed in their team lineups with only three players over 30 on each team: Choi Jin-chul (33), Lee Won-jae (31), and Lee Min-sung (31) on the Korean team, and Oliver Khan (35), Christian Woerns (32), and Bernd Schneider (31) from the German team.

The Korean team’s main force is formed by the “Crown Prince of the Olympic Team” Cho Jae-jin, along with Kim Doo-hyun (22), Kim Dong-jin (22), and Cho Byung-guk (23). New German players Kevin Kuranyi (22), Lucas Podolski (19), Philipp Lahm (21), and Andreas Hinkel (22), are ready to stir up a new storm on the field.

The “Killers’ Showdown” between Cho Jae-jin and Kuranyi, in particular, is expected to offer quite a spectacle. It is a chance for Cho to come out from the shade of his senior players, Ahn Jung-hwan and Lee Dong-guk. Though he demonstrated a superior talent for shooting at the Olympics, leading the team up to the quarterfinal for the first time in Korean Olympic Team history, he did not show much action on the national team. He is more than ready to make an impression on Coach Bonfrere.

Kuranyi, with the power of European soccer and Latin American technique, is a powerful new striker, who scored nine goals in 18 A-match games. He always had, however, two super giant strikers, Miroslav Klose (26) and Gerald Asamoa (26), to overcome, so this game should prove to be a good chance to tryout his capabilities.

Kim Doo-hyun, the player who scored the winning goal versus Maldives, is determined to win the face-off against Germany’s superstar Michael Ballack (28) to become the “commander of the midfield.” Another aspect to keep an eye on is the defensive line of both teams. It should be interesting to see how much stability Cho Byung-guk, the “new energy” of the Korean team, and Hinkel will display the night of the event.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com