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Disguised vs. Insidious

Posted March. 22, 2005 22:18,   


“Don’t perform too well.” (Johannes Bonfrere, Korean team coach)

“We can’t beat the Korean team. It even played in the World Cup semi-final.” (Gabriel Calderon, Saudi Arabian team coach)

Before the final Asian preliminary round match for the 2006 World Cup Germany between South Korea and Saudi Arabia, scheduled at 1:45 a.m. (Korean time) on March 26, both coaches of Group A’s top teams were engaged in a fierce war of nerves.

The war of nerves between Bonfrere (59) and Calderon (45) broke out at Dubai Al Nasr Stadium in the United Arab Emirates, where Korea played against Burkina Faso in an evaluation round match on March 21.

Bonfrere tried to hide the Korean team’s ability in the match. He placed key players including Lee Dong-guk, Kim Nam-il, and Kim Doo-hyun on the bench, while playing the bench players instead. He is also said to have ordered choreographed plays, for example, saying, “Attack only from the right,” or, “Don’t do an advance pass.”


Calderon, who visited the stadium to scout the Korean team’s ability, went even further. He said, “How can we defeat such a strong team? We will move to the grand final as the second place team of our group.” As recently as a month before, he said, “I have a secret plan to beat Korea,” before leaving for his homeland Argentina for vacation,

Calderon must not be scared of the Korean team. He contributed to a victory along with soccer genius Maradona in the 1979 World Youth Championship and was a member of second place team in the 1990 World Cup Italy. In addition, Saudi Arabia is known as a strong team. Even the website for the World Cup Germany(http://fifaworldcup.com) named Mabrouk Zaid, Saudi Arabia’s goalkeeper, as one of players to watch.

Meanwhile, the Korean national team arrived at Dammam, Saudi Arabia on March 22. After the players who currently belong to European teams such as Park Ji-sung, Lee Young-pyo (both in PSV Eindhoven), Seol Ki-hyun (Woverhamptom) joined the team on the same day, all 22 entrants participated in the final training.

Soon-Il Kwon stt77@donga.com