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The Banality of Korean Soccer

Posted February. 14, 2005 22:38,   


“Apro, apro!”

These are the first Korean words learnt by the Brazilian Sergio Farias (38), football coach of the Pohang Steelers. He yelled this to convey his message "pass it forward" to players indulging in back passes and sideways passes.

Since taking on the job of Brazilian youth soccer coach in 1998, he led his team to victory that year at the Dubai International Youth Soccer Competition. After scoring a 1-1 tie with the Japanese Yokohama Marinos at the opening game of the A3 Nissan Champions Cup 2005, we met up with him at a restaurant in Seogwipo city on February 14.

“We had to win with a score of 3-2 in yesterday’s game. I only got 50-60 percent of the skills I expected at this game. I aim for games with as many goals as possible. I don’t want ties either.”

When asked if he can lead his team to victory against last year’s K-League champions, the Suwon Samsung team, he answered “Even Real Madrid, with its exemplary stars, may have a losing streak once in a while. There is no everlasting winner. My goal is to be number one. Nobody will care if we get to be number two or three.”

What is his opinion of Korean soccer?

“While in South America, we focus on getting the ball into the goal, Korean players concentrate more on passing the ball. They are less trained in set plays and are more simple and uniform in their games.”

He added that his personal preference is Spain’s FC Barcelona, which has a creative and aggressive style.

Sung-Kyu Kim kimsk@donga.com