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Korea’s Soccer Team: Glass and Mirrors or the Real Deal?

Korea’s Soccer Team: Glass and Mirrors or the Real Deal?

Posted March. 21, 2005 22:41,   


Korea’s national soccer team showed some uneasy signs in the last evaluation match that the team will have before the final Asian preliminary rounds for the 2006 World Cup Germany against Saudi Arabia.

The Korean team won a tough victory against Burkina-Faso (FIFA ranking: 84th) in an evaluation round match at Dubai Al Nasr Stadium in the United Arab Emirates on Monday on Kim Sang-shik’s winning goal 10 minutes into the second half of the game. The national team under Coach Bonfrere has recorded 8 wins, three losses, and five draws since the team began qualification play last July.

It is true that many of the team’s key players, such as those playing for overseas teams, were missing, and other playmakers such as Kim Nam-il and Kim Doo-hyun were on the bench with injuries. However, the Korean team should have had a better match against a team similar in style but weaker than Saudi Arabia’s. Korea’s cross passes were too rough and were often intercepted. The Korean defense also failed to cut off its opponents’ surprise attacks or mid-field shots, nearly allowing goals many times.

Korea’s starting lineup consisted of Chung Kyung-ho, Namgung Do, and Lee Chun-soo up front, Kim Dong-jin, Kim Jung-woo, Kim Sang-shik, and Park Kyu-seon at mid-field, Park Jae-hong, Yoo Sang-chul, and Park Dong-hyuk on defense, and Kim Young-kwang as the goal keeper.

Eight minutes into the game, the Korean team nearly allowed a goal when a Burkina-Faso’s player launched a shot on goal from 25 meters out which hit the right goal post. In the 31st minute, the Korean team showed other signs of weak defense as the defense line let through a sudden attack that could have led to a goal if it weren’t for Kim Young-gwang’s save.

Ten minutes into the second half, Kim Dong-jin’s corner kick was deflected by a Burkina-Faso header, which hit another defense player and bounced towards the goal. Kim Sang-shik hit a turning shot which found the net and turned out to be the winning goal. It was the first time in four years and five months that Kim has scored a goal in an A-match since the Asian Cup in October, 2000.

Korea will play its 2006 World Cup Germany final preliminary round match against Saudi Arabia at 1:45 a.m. on March 26.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com