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Bonfrere’s Agony

Posted January. 26, 2005 23:08,   


“Who should I employ?”

Johannes Bonfrere (59), coach of the Korean national soccer team, began to agonize shortly after coming back to Korea on January 26 after completing overseas training in the United States. His agony is about his team’s entry for the first game in the Asia final preliminary for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany with Kuwait on February 9 at Seoul World Cup Stadium. The time has come for him to select the “best 11” among the players of Korean professional teams who emerged in overseas training, and the players from overseas professional football clubs whose talent was verified in the 2002 World Cup.

The Stage for Confirmation of Leadership-

The final preliminary, including the game with Kuwait, is a chance to test Bonfrere’s leadership. He has been at the helm of the national team for some seven months since June 24 of last year. He finally succeeded in bringing the team to final preliminary after lots of twists and turns. However, there was no perfect win, and many questioned his leadership, saying that he was preoccupied with the reputation of players. Now he is not in a position to offer an excuse that time for training was insufficient.

Finding the Best Combination-

For the left striker position of the “three top” system, Seol Ki-hyun (Wolverhampton) and “surprise star” Chung Kyung-ho (Gwangju, Army) who scored two goals in overseas training, are contending. For the right striker position, the coach has to decide between Namgung Do (Jeonbuk) who has newly emerged in the overseas training and Lee Chun-su (Numancia). Lee Dong-guk (Gwangju) is almost certain to be chosen as center striker.

For the right midfielder position that is now vacant as “World Cup Star” Song Jong-guk (Samsung) joined the military, Park Gyu-sun (Jeonbuk) is the strong candidate. As Kim Dong-jin (Seoul) quickly emerged as the potential left midfielder, it is now a possible combination to select Lee Young-pyo (Eindhoven) as the right midfielder.

Bonfrere’s biggest agony is the Korean defense line. Veteran player Yoo Sang-chul (Ulsan) is not in a good shape these days, and Choi Jin-chul (Jeonbuk) and Kim Tae-young (Jeonnam) announced his retirement, which means Bonfrere has to pick a defense line from players who showed promise during the overseas training, like Kim Jin-kyu (Jeonnam), Yoo Kyung-ryeol (Ulsan), Park Jae-hong (Jeonnam) and Park Dong-hyuk (Jeonbuk).

Park Ji-sung (Eindhoven) is likely to be chosen as the center offensive midfielder, and Kim Nam-il (Suwon) as the defensive midfielder.

The Dilemma of Park Joo-young-

This is also what pressures Bonfrere. As Park Joo-young, a youth national team member (younger than 20 years old) scored many goals in the Qatar eight-country Youth Tournament, the demand is increasing that the player should be included in the national team. But the couch said, “Park Joo-young is not suitable for the adult national team yet. He is still insufficient in all aspects including physical strength, technique and speed. I will decide whether to employ him after watching his play in the FIFA World Youth Championship that ends in July. ”

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com