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“No Sleep for Soccer Fans Tonight”

Posted January. 25, 2005 22:51,   


“Scoring Machine” Park Ju-young (20, Korea University). How many goals will he drive in this time?

At the finals of the 2005 Qatar 8 Nations Cup Youth Soccer Tournament (under 20) taking place between Korea and Japan on January 27 at 1:45 a.m. (Korea time) in Doha, Qatar, the issue will be whether or not Japan’s defense can stop Park, who scored seven goals in the preceding three games.

The reason why Japan’s youth team suffered three consecutive losses to Korea this past year was because it couldn’t cut off Park’s offense. At the Stars Cup in February, Japan was defeated 0-1 after Park scored the winning goal. A month later, the Korea-Japan goodwill match ended in another 0-1 defeat for Japan, when Park’s brilliant assist led to a goal by Baek Ji-hoon (Seoul). In the semifinal round of last year’s Asian Youth Soccer Championship, Japan was brought to its knees in the penalty kick shootout, after giving up repeated goals to Park and Baek that tied the score.

At least two of Japan’s defensive players are expected to “shadow mark” Park in the upcoming final match. Planning to use a 3-4-1-2 formation, head coach Park Sung-hwa (50) is placing the dual roles of striker and playmaker on Park’s shoulders.

He explained, “If we assign our frontline offense to Park, he could be intensively marked by the opposing defense. So we’re going to position him right behind the two tops, to calibrate both the offense and defense while taking part in the scoring as well.”

The positions of two tops will be filled by Shin Young-rok (Suwon) and Kim Seung-yong (Seoul), with team captain Baek Ji-hoon manning the midfield alongside Baek Seung-min (Yongin FC), Han Je-kwang (Ulsan), and Ahn Tae-eun (Chosun Univ.). The defensive line will consist of Lee Yo-han (Incheon), Ahn Jae-joon (Korea Univ.), and Jung In-hwan (Yongin FC).

This formation will allow Park, who commands speed, dribbling, and shooting skills alike, to make broad use of the field in shaking off Japan’s defense. When he finds himself blocked, he will pass the ball to Shin Young-rok and Kim Seung-yong to assist them. And he will charge the defense himself and score at every opportunity.

Head coach Park stated, “Because the midfielders, including Baek Ji-hoon and Han Je-kwang, as well as the two tops, are highly capable of scoring, we won’t rely exclusively on Park Ju-young. We’ll completely cut off Honda Keisuke and Hirayama Sota, who scored two goals in the semifinals, and play a steady game.”

Soon-Il Kwon stt77@donga.com